Aamir Khan disappoints Bihar’s Mountain Man’s family

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Patna: Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has disappointed the poverty-stricken family of Bihar’s ‘Mountain Man’ Dasrath Manjhi, as neither did he provide financial help to them nor send his team to inquire about their requirements.

Dashrath Manjhi is known for single-handedly cutting through a hill to make a road.His son Bhagirath is sad and pained after he failed to save his wife Basanti Devi, who died due to lack of medical care last month.

“If hero (Aamir) could have provided financial help as he promised us, my wife may not have died. She died because of our abject poverty. Aamir has proved himself like leaders or officials, who promised help that never reached us,” Bhagirath told IANS over the phone of a local NGO member.

Bhagirath said that he managed to perform ‘shradh’ (a ritual performed after a death) Friday thanks to financial help provided by Bodh Gaya-based People First Educational Charitable Trust.

“It was they (Trust) who spent money to perform my wife’s shradh. I have no money to do that,” he said.

Aamir Khan, who visited their village for his TV show “Satyamev Jayate” in February, promised to provide financial help to Dashrath’s daughter-in-law Basanti and son Bhagirath.

In early March after Aamir’s visit hit the headlines, Shafi Ahmad, state co-ordinator of Aamir’s production house, said a team would soon visit the Dasrathnagar Dalit tola near Gahlaur in Gaya district, around 100 km from here, on behalf of the actor-filmmaker as he had requested that their requirements be taken care of.

Aamir, during his visit, also assured Bhagirath and Basanti of help. Nearly two months after Aamir promised to help Basanti she died due to lack of proper medical treatment.

Both of them had told Khan that they have been left in the lurch, ignored by politicians and officials despite repeated assurances of help.

Bhagirath said that Basanti’s death sent shock waves through the village as it happened despite assurances of help from Aamir.

However, the Trust that helped Bhagirath conduct Basanti’s shradh, has opened the Dasrath Manjhi non-formal school in Gahlaur. The school is being run by Basanti’s daughter-in-law Laksminiya Devi.

Both Bhagirath and Basanti used to work in the village primary school as cooks for preparing the mid-day meal for children. Both of them were paid Rs.1,000 a month.

Working day and night, Dasrath Manjhi had single-handedly carved out a 360 feet long, 30 feet high and 30 feet wide passage through a hill near Gahlaur with a hammer and chisel. He died in 2007 after battling cancer.

The hill was between Attari and Wazirgunj blocks in Gaya district. Manjhi began his uphill task when his wife was injured and he had to take a detour around the mountains to reach the nearest hospital.

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