The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gangaajal echo in Bihar blindings

Patna, Oct. 4: Blindings, imitation, blindings again.

First, Prakash Jha re-created the Bhagalpur blindings on silver screen. Now, Bihar is re-enacting Gangaajal in real life every time it is angry.

Three persons have been blinded in Rabri Devi’s backyard in the last two months in what appears to be the latest type of punishment dogging the state. Whack a cycle, pinch a cow and stand to lose your eyes.

That’s what happened to 16-year-old Dhanvir Yadav of Khagaria district. One of his eyes was gouged out because he was suspected of being a bicycle thief. Jatadhari Yadav of Banka district had acid poured into his eyes because he was suspected of stealing cattle.

A cycle spoke was jabbed into the eyes of Gurucharan Bhagat of Vaishali district because he dared to intervene in a quarrel between his nephew and his mother.

Although such blindings have been happening in the name of justice even before Gangaajal, they seem to have gathered momentum of late. A red-faced Rabri regime has decided to book the mastermind behind such incidents, usually village mukhiyas, and help the law award deterrent punishment.

The story of the bizarre blindings came into the open after Dhanvir, left to die on the Seikhpura-Bhados road, landed in Patna Medical College and Hospital. A public outcry followed after which Bangalore eye specialist Sunita Agarwal offered to treat the boy. Then, civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy gifted the boy a free air ticket. Dhanvir reached Bangalore yesterday.

Dhanvir said he had been passing through Mathurapur on September 7 when a dozen angry villagers boxed him in and badly beat him up. Then he was dragged to the mukhiya.

“What could we do with this incorrigible cycle thief, sir'” asked the crowd.

“Pluck his eyes out and leave him on the busy highway,” thundered the mukhiya, dispensing justice. It took the boy seven days to reach the hospital.

Jatadhari’s case was as bad. Suspecting of stealing cattle, villagers caught hold of him in Dhariya police station area on August 6 and poured acid into his eyes.

The case was kept under wraps for one-and-half months but police have now registered cases against the accused. In all, 15 people have been arrested in connection with the blindings.

The third instance was the result of a domestic dispute. Gurucharan was trying to calm down his nephew, Parasuram, during a row with his mother on September 20. Furious at being given unsolicited advice, Parasuram pierced a cycle spoke into his uncle’s eyes.

Although fingers are not being pointed at Gangaajal “because even before the film was released, incidents of blindings were reported”, social activists have been trying to calm down nerves.

Taking off on Dhanvir’s case, a play, Gandaajal, is being performed on the streets, but the focus is on the goodness of the Bangalore doctor and the villagers who took the boy to hospital rather than the horror of his blinding.

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