Empty promises leave mountain man Manjhi’s children homeless

Gaya (Bihar): Children of the Mountain Man-Dashrath Manjhi, who constructed a road by cutting Gehlor hills for 22 years (1960-82) alone, reducing the distance between two blocks of Gaya district Atri and Wazirganj from 55 kms to 15 kms are still without a roof in Gehlor village.

Dashrath Manjhi, was promised by the chief minister Nitish Kumar that he and his family will be offered full assistance. Manjhi was invited to the weekly Janata Dardar by Nitesh Kumar, where he had offered Manjhi his chair for a brief time. In spite of being promised all assistance the state government could not even arrange for Indira Gandhi Awas Unit for the Manjhi family.

Bhagirath Manjhi, son of Dashrath told this visiting correspondent “The then chief minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi also came to meet us after a film-Mountain Man directed by Ketan Mehta was released in 2015.When we asked him for a pucca house, he replied hut made of phoos (straw and mud) was better for you. If we give you a pucca house, no one will visit you”.

Ketan Mehta, director of the film Manjhi had promised 2 per cent of the earning from the film to Dashrath Manjhi’s children, but they got only Rs 1.5 lakh in two installments. Aamir Khan who also visited them for his first show of Satyamev jayate had promised financial assistance and a house. He also has backed out. Bhagirath said officials of Coal India Limited had also visited them and returned after honouring him with a shawl.

Last week, AICC president Sonia Gandhi invited them to 10 Janpath House with the family members. Mrs. Gandhi handed over a cheque of Rs 5001 and a black colour shawl. She reimbursed the train journey fare and other expenses to them, but there was no word promising a house to them at Gehlor.

After the film-Mountain Man and Olave Mandara, a Kanada film based on Dashrath Manjhi’s life was released, senior army officers too visited Manjhi’s house to take inspiration from Dashrath’s life. “Daily two to three big vehciles are parked outside my hut. They get photographed with us, offer some money, but no offer for a pucca house. There are over a dozen shawls gifted in last two years”, Bhagirath told this correspondent.

Following the release of film-Gehlor has now a hospital, pucca road, school and even a police station as distinguished visitors need security cover, but no effort has been made to give Manjhi family a pucca house. The only source of income for Manjhi family is ten decimal of land on which they grow paddy and rabi crops. Bhagirath said since he was physically handicapped as one of the legs were damaged in a road accident, he cannot get employment.

The Manjhi family is still waiting to get a roof over their head in spite of people who matter make all the promises and visits.

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