Villagers on the bank of Naulakha Dam in Giridih on Thursday
Hazaribagh, Jan. 3: Twenty-two-year-old Ranju Devi is dry-eyed today after weeping for four days.
The body of Ranju’s husband Dinesh Yadav (25), feared drowned at Naulakha Dam in Giridih’s Rajdhanwar block since Monday morning, was not found today as well. But Ranju and her father-in-law Mahavir Mahto kept sitting in one corner near the dam, hoping for a miracle.
It did not happen.
“I have a three-month-old son,” Ranju said quietly, staring at the waters of the dam. It was the only time she spoke.
Dinesh, a farmer, was the sole breadwinner of his family — parents, wife, 15-year-old brother Kallu and infant son.
“I don’t know what we will do in his absence,” father Mahavir said. He added they didn’t want politics over this issue.
Some political attention was inevitable. A day after villagers set ablaze the official vehicle of circle officer of Rajdhanwar Nirmal Kumar Toppo to protest against administrative failure to bring out the body, today over 1,000 villagers gathered near the dam to wait with Ranju and Mahavir for divers. Along them was senior Congress leader Upendra Singh, who sat on a “fast-unto-death”.
A section of villagers — demanding the body as well as compensation for Dinesh’s next-of-kin — called a meeting where Mahavir was present and said they had nothing to do with yesterday’s arson.
The grieving father added: “Please bring out the body of my son as soon as possible. We want to see his face one last time.” No one reminded the old man that after so many days, the face would be unrecognisably decomposed.
Villagers added that after yesterday’s SUV burning incident, no official from Rajdhanwar block, under which the dam falls, visited the place.
Congress leader Singh added the district administration had behaved with insensitivity. “We hoped for divers from Day One. We heard divers were coming from Muzzaffarpur, Patna and Calcutta, that they had reached Giridih, but all were rumours,” he added.
Giridih DC Diprava Lakra claimed fishermen from Dhanbad searched for the body the whole day today. Singh countered Lakra was lying.