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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

From rags to riches, the story of Ranjit Don

Press Trust of India, PTI  Hilsa (Nalanda), November 27, 2003
First Published: 17:59 IST(27/11/2003) | Last Updated: 18:08 IST(27/11/2003)

From a timid village school boy to the kingpin who almost destroyed the credibility of India's premier institutions of management studies, it was a rags-to-riches story for Ranjit Singh, alias Ranjit Don.

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Born in a family owning just a small piece of land at Khaddi Lodhipur in Hilsa block of Bihar's Nalanda district, Ranjit is a hero rather than a villain for his co-villagers.

Though Ranjit's affluence attained through dubious means has changed nothing in the nondescript village having no tarred roads, electricity or tap water, people here are full of gratitude towards him.

''We owe a lot to Ranjit who gave employment to hundreds of youths of Patna and Nalanda districts,'' says sexagenarian Deo Nandan Pandit as others nod their approval.

''Woh hamare hero hain. CBI ne unko phansaya hai (He was our hero. CBI has trapped him in false case),'' says an agitated youth Sanjay.

However, Ranjit's aunt Malti Devi is not all praise for her nephew who she says had done practically nothing for the village or poor relatives like her.

''Paisa tha lekin gaon aur rishtedaron keliye kya kiye? (He had money but what has he done for the village and relatives,'' she asks confronting Sanjay, who keeps harping on the "good work" done by Ranjit for the people of the areas neighbouring the village.

Ranjit was arrested with several of his accomplices in Delhi on Sunday when they were allegedly leaking Common Admission Test (CAT) question papers.

The headmaster of Rambabu High School, O P Singh, where Ranjit studied remembers him as a student who was average in studies but "very cultured".

Kankunwar Devi, the nonagenarian grandmother of Ranjit, said her three sons Shyam Sunder Prasad, Rajendra Prasad and Rakesh Prasad divided the land they had inherited from their father Laxman Mahto after his death 14 years ago.

She said Ranjit, son of Shyam Sunder, who shifted to Patna after the division, was very hardworking and through his "true grit and commitment" completed his medical education from Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).

''I don't know what he was doing in Mumbai as he used to come to Khaddi Lodhipur very rarely,'' she said when informed that he was arrested in connection with the CAT paper leak case.

Leela, Ranjit's sister-in-law who lives in his marble-tiled house at Hilsa equipped with a DVD, state-of-the-art TVs, geysers as also several generator sets, expressed shock at the arrest of her brother-in-law saying, ''he can do no wrong.''

He had been falsely implicated in the case as he had floated Magadh Vikas Manch, a voluntary organisation, and was planning to contest the next Lok Sabha election from Nalanda against George Fernandes, she alleged.

Similar views were expressed by Ranjit's in-laws Brijnandan Mahto and Bachi Devi at Kathauli village, also in Nalanda district. "The CBI has played into the hands of top politicians who felt threatened by the growing popularity of Ranjit," they alleged.

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