Dashrath Manjhi, the septuagenarian ‘mountain man’ of Gehlour who sat on the chair of chief minister for a shortwhile, died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on Friday evening. He was suffering from cancer of gall bladder.
His body is being brought to Gaya by Purashottam Express on Saturday. Condoling the death of Manjhi, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced State funeral for the ‘mountain man’. The last rites will be performed either at Gaya or village.
Manjhi was admitted to the AIIMS on July 23 at the behest of the Chief Minister, with the state government bearing the cost of his treatment. On Wednesday, he was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after his condition deteriorated.
Manji shot into limelight after he constructed a 360 feet long, 30 feet high and 25 feet wide passage through Gehlour hills with a hammer, chisel and nails working day and night for 22 years from 1960 to 1982. His feat reduced the distance between Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya district from 75 km to just one km, bringing him international acclaim.
The work on Manjhi’s dream project of a pucca road, named Dasrath Manjhi Road, is still in progress.
When Manjhi had met Nitish Kumar at a janata durbar in July last in Patna, Kumar stood up in reverence to the man with Himalayan resolve and made him sit on the Chief Minister’s chair.
The state government had allotted a five-acre plot to Manjhi in Karjani village, which he donated for construction of a hospital. The government had recently announced to name the hospital after Manjhi.
The mountain man’s only son and daughter in-law are handicapped and the family lives in abject poverty. For his own family, Manjhi could do nothing more than procuring an Indira Awaas Yojna unit.