CM Das moots varsity tribute

Chief minister Raghubar Das today announced the setting up of a university in Dhanbad named after the legendary Binod Behari Mahto, a pioneer of the Jharkhand statehood movement and a JMM founder-member, earning the BJP-ruled state government appreciation from MLAs cutting across party lines and giving Das the air of a statesman, at least for now.

By Sudhir Kumar Mishra & Praduman Choubey
  • Published 15.03.16
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Ranchi/Dhanbad, March 14: Chief minister Raghubar Das today announced the setting up of a university in Dhanbad named after the legendary Binod Behari Mahto, a pioneer of the Jharkhand statehood movement and a JMM founder-member, earning the BJP-ruled state government appreciation from MLAs cutting across party lines and giving Das the air of a statesman, at least for now.

Chief minister Das said he had already spoken to Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani about Binod Behari Mahto Koylanchal University.

"Necessary initiatives to set up the varsity will start very soon," Das said.

By naming it after Binod Behari Mahto, the Koylanchal university will honour a man who not only was among the founders of the JMM in 1972, but a crusading lawyer in Dhanbad who fought for land rights, coined the war cry Padho aur Lado for the poor and was elected MLA in 1980 and 1985 from Tundi and Sindri in Dhanbad, and as Giridih MP in 1991.

His sudden death in December 1991 was a severe blow to the JMM and the region.

Calling this a historic development for the coal belt, Dhanbad MLA Raj Sinha of the BJP said the new university would help thousands of students who otherwise had to rush to Hazaribagh, where Vinoba Bhave University (VBU) is headquartered, for paperwork. Dhanbad colleges are affiliated to VBU, 130km away from Dhanbad.

The new university is also expected to serve the higher education needs of students of Bokaro and Giridih.

Though the chief minister's announcement was only verbal as of now, it was celebration time in the coal belt. BJP workers led by district president Chandrashekhar Singh marched on the streets and celebrated the news by smearing gulal on each others' faces near Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad, distributed sweets and burst crackers.

Students, teachers, academics, scholars and intellectuals also welcomed the announcement. "The university was badly needed in Dhanbad, which otherwise has all infrastructure, including road and rail connectivity, seven constituent colleges, one engineering and one medical college," said Naresh Kumar Ambastha, head of philosophy at PK Roy Memorial College.

Praise with a caveat came from JMM quarters. Spokesperson Supriyo Bhattachaya congratulated the chief minister for the announcement but added that a Dhanbad university had been their long-standing demand.

Mahto apart, the other leaders of the statehood movement were Nirmal Mahto, A.K. Roy and Shibu Soren.