Manish Ranjan in his different avatars in Hazaribagh. Pictures by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Hazaribagh, Feb. 24: They say when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Manish Ranjan does exactly that in Hazaribagh, springing surprises by donning costumes apt for various public occasions — be it in a sardar’s guise on Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, wearing a lungi to a tribal function or playing a girl to spread awareness on the social evil of child marriage.
From politicians to students and social workers, everyone admits that the Hazaribagh deputy commissioner has become the talk of the town for his knack of stealing the show whenever he visits a place on invitation.
Last month, Main Gurdwara invited Ranjan on the eve of Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti. As the DC’s official car flashing a beacon light pulled up at the gurdwara the next day, the committee members rushed to welcome him. They were taken aback when a sardar emerged but soon realised it was the DC himself.
Officials close to Ranjan recall that after he took charge in the end of 2010, he visited the every nook and corner of the district riding a bike.
His penchant for innovative get-ups is more recent.
On January 19, surprise was in store for residents of Holang village, a Maoist stronghold in Tatijharia.
Ranjan was the chief guest of a programme, hosted by NGO Breakthrough, on educating villagers about the ills of child marriage. The DC rose, swiftly covered his head with a dupatta and offered to play the lead role in a street play called Chanda Pukare.
The audience applauded Ranjan all the way for his acting skills.
Ranjan explained his rationale behind dressing up for events as simply to appreciate and understand them better.
“It helps me mingle with people in a more effective way and provide space to understand their problems,” he told The Telegraph.
RJD leader Mohammad Salim said Ranjan’s impeccable dressing pleasantly surprised the minority community when he turned up at an event attired in kurta pyjama and a green turban on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi
Shirdi Sai Temple committee members, too, sensed Ranjan’s fluid approach.
In December last year, he took part in a weekly procession of the Shirdi Sai palki (litter) in town, walking 2km barefoot and in the appearance of a sadhu.
Employees at the DC’s office said Ranjan came to work dressed in simple yet formal clothes. He sticks to formal outfits while visiting educational institutes.
But Ranjan conceded he did not want to remain confined to the role of an officer who only followed the administrative rulebook. “Even my regular visits to different areas on bike even in Naxalite hubs only helps people to get in touch with me, besides at office and on my mobile.”