Patna, Sep 29 (IANS) Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Monday ordered a high-level probe into the alleged “untouchability” practised by some “powerful people” against him after he visited a temple.
“I have ordered a high-level probe into the incident by the commissioner and inspector general of police. They would inquire into it. The law will take its course against those found guilty,” Manjhi told mediapersons here, a day after he revealed that he is still treated as an “untouchable” by some “powerful people” as he is a Mahadalit, the most backward among the community.
Manjhi said here Sunday that some people washed idols of deities and cleaned the temple after he performed prayers and rituals in Madhubani district last month.
“I was specially invited by some people to participate in prayers and offer rituals at a function but a senior leader Ram Lakhan Ram informed me after my return that they washed the idols of the god and goddess and their home as I was an untouchable,” he said.
“Even today (Monday), a former union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav has telephoned me from Delhi, where he is seeking medical treatment for his wife, and told me that the temple was cleaned and idols washed after I visited the temple in Madhubani.”
Meanwhile, Bihar’s ruling JD-U state president Vashisht Narain Singh said the probe would come out with the truth.
JD-U’s new ally RJD has demanded action against those who cleaned the temple and washed the idols.
Manjhi, successor to Nitish Kumar who resigned after the JDU’s lacklustre performance in the Lok Sabha polls, wondered if it was his fault to have been born in a poor scheduled caste family. “People still treat us as if it was a curse to be born in a Mahadalit family,” he said.
He said many people touch his feet to get their work done or take benefit from him but when it comes to social level, they still treat him as an untouchable.
“It is an insult to Mahadalits. It is an example of where we are now and what our mindset is all about,” he said.
Manjhi belong to the Musahar community that derives its name from the practice of eating rats after usually hunting for them in paddy fields.
An estimated 2.3 million Musahars live across Bihar in extremely poor condition. Less than five percent of them are literate and most of them make a living as labourers. They are still considered untouchables despite a law against it.
The Musahar community was upbeat after 68-year-old Manjhi, who began his life working as a shepherd for an upper caste farmer, became the new chief minister.
Manjhi earned his own livelihood and funded his own education. His father Ramjeet Ram Manjhi was a landless labourer.
He is the third Dalit to become chief minister after Bhola Paswan Shastri and Ram Sundar Das.