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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Aamir's show to feature Dasrath Manjhi, but Bihar icon's family has no TV to watch

Rai Atul Krishna Rai Atul Krishna Rai Atul Krishna, Hindustan Times  Patna, February 22, 2014
First Published: 20:24 IST(22/2/2014) | Last Updated: 20:44 IST(22/2/2014)

The inspirational story of Bihar's famed 'mountain man' Dasrath Manjhi is set to be featured on Aamir Khan's television show Satyamev Jayate on March 2, but the late Dalit icon's impoverished family may not be able to watch – for lack of a TV set.

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The opening episode of the show's season two will depict the indomitable spirit of Manjhi, a poor Dalit labourer who spent 22 years single-handedly carving out a road through the Gehlaur hills in Gaya's Muhra block so that his village could access medical facilities on the other side.

Manjhi took up the task in 1960, after his wife died due to lack of medical facilities.

When he finished in 1982, Manjhi had created a 360-feet long and 30-feet wide road connecting his hamlet to the relatively facility-rich block headquarters of Atri and Wazirganj.

Manjhi died of cancer in 2007 and was given a state funeral, but life is no better in the Dalit Tola of Dasrathnagar village where his son Bhagirath lives with his wife Basanti.

"There is not even a TV set at his Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) unit at Dasrathnagar Dalit Tola," said Bhagirath's son-in-law Mithun Manjhi.
He said there was just one TV set among the 50-odd houses that populated the hamlet, located around 35km east of Gaya town in south central Bihar.

But even that lone TV set is no guarantee that Bhagirath will get to watch his father being hailed on television – thanks to erratic electricity supply in the village.

"Even if we all assemble in front of the single TV set in Dasrathnagar, nobody knows if there will be power supply when the episode is telecast," Mithun said.

Bhagirath had earlier told reporters that even though his late father had been honoured by the government, nothing had been done to help his poverty-stricken family.

He and his wife subsist on monthly salaries of Rs. 1,000 each that they earn from their jobs under the government's midday meal scheme.
"Newspaper cuttings of his achievement are of little help," said Bhagirath's wife Basanti, who cooks meals at a local primary school under the scheme.

She is also skeptical about Aamir Khan's proposed visit to her Tola ahead of the telecast.

"The family has unspoken expectations from Aamir, whose office has announced his visit to Dasrathnagar to dedicate the Manjhi episode to his family and the people of the Tola," said Rajkumar Raju, a local social worker and journalist.

"The state government runs a skill development scheme named after Dasrath Manjhi. Bollywood director Ketan Mehta made a film called Manjhi – The Mountain Man on his life starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui. But his family remains desperately poor."

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