By Matters India Reporter
Patna, August 17, 2019: Students and staff of Patna’s St Xavier’s College of Management and Technology on August 17 offered floral tributes to India’s “Mountain Man” on his 12th death anniversary.
Dashrath Manjhi, a daily wage laborer, got the title after carving a path through a hillock in Bihar’s Gaya district.
The 110 meter long, 9.1 m wide and 7.6 m deep path helped shorten the distance between Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya district from 55 km to 15 km, said college principal Jesuit Father T Nishaant.
Manjhi, a resident of Gehlaur village, cut the path using only a hammer and chisel over 22 years, the principal added.
Manjhi was born in a Musahar family, at the lowest rung of caste system. He ran away from home as a teenager and worked in coal mines of Dhanbad, now in Jharkhand state.
He returned to his village and married Falguni Devi, who died after an accident without getting immediate medical care as there was no hospital nearby.
A distraught Manjhi resolved that no one else to suffer his fate and started cut the path to make his village more accessible.
“When I started hammering the hill, people called me a lunatic but that steeled my resolve,” he had told reporters.
He completed the path between 1960 and 1982. Although people mocked for his efforts, his path has made life easier for people of his village.
“Although most villagers taunted me at first, there were quite a few who lent me support later by giving me food and helping me buy my tools,” he said.
Manjhi died on August 17, 2007, aged 78, after suffering from gallbladder cancer in All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi. He was given a state funeral by the Bihar government.
The administration built roads between his village and Wazirganj and Atri and Gaya over this path after his death.
The Bihar government proposed his name for the Padma Shree award in 2006 in social service sector. A stamp was released by India Post in the “Personalities of Bihar” series on December 26, 2016.
Films Division produced a documentary directed by Kumud Ranjan named “The Man Who Moved the Mountain” based on Manjhi’s life in 2011.