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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Dalit crusader forced to sign bank papers

Prasun K Mishra, Hindustan Times  Ramgarh (Bihar), January 12, 2013
First Published: 00:53 IST(12/1/2013) | Last Updated: 02:57 IST(12/1/2013)

A day after HT wrote about how a Dalit man, who brought literacy to his impoverished locality, was facing caste bias at the hands of a bank manager, Banwasi Musahar was Friday allegedly forced into signing some papers by the bank officials.

The 58-year-old brick-kiln worker, who for 20 years has been working to educate children of Akorhi Mahadalit basti here, was on Friday whisked away from the settlement as he was preparing for his sister’s funeral who died earlier in the day.

At around 9am, some men came in a white luxury car and took him to a nearby brick kiln. “I went with them thinking they wanted me to complete some brick-casting work. But four persons from the bank came there and made me sign some papers,” Banwasi told HT.

He was not allowed to read the papers.

The bank Banwasi talked about is the Ramgarh branch of the Bank of India, which is yet to honour a cheque of Rs. 1 lakh that HT presented to him in October for outstanding community service.

HT wrote on Friday how the bank manager allegedly insulted Banwasi's caste and told him off when he went to deposit the cheque, which was finally accepted on December 12.

When contacted Friday afternoon, branch manager Vinay Shekhar Das denied forcing Banwasi into signing papers and said he was trying to settle the issue at the earliest. He said Banwasi's cheque, which was misplaced, had been found and would be credited to his account within three days.

“However, we are arranging for Rs. 1 lakh to be credited to his account from some private source today itself,” he said. The money had not been credited till the closing of banking hours.

Kaimur SP Uma Shankar Sudhanshu said he had asked the local sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) to look into the matter. When contacted, SDPO Suresh Kumar said he was on way to the basti. "I'll be able to say something only after I've spoken to Banwasi", he told HT. Kumar couldn't be contacted again.

Banwasi' sister died of a gall bladder ailment and suspected heart attack at the local hospital. He didn't have the money to take her to Patna for better treatment, Buxar MP Jagadanand Singh said.


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