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Heard a bit about Anna, says father of man who burnt self

Heard a bit about Anna, says father of man who burnt self

Author: Santosh Singh
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: August 25, 2011
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/heard-a-bit-about-anna-says-father-of-man-who-burnt-self/836757/0

Introduction: Dinesh's village has no power or TV; Anna was till Tuesday a vague phenomenon

"I have heard a little bit about Anna," says Binda Yadav. "My son would say that Anna is doing some 'badiya cheez' (good thing)."

Just 45 km from Patna, Binda's village Sarfuddinpur has no power. When its 100-odd residents need to recharge their mobile phones, they go to the nearby village. Cut off from television's non-stop coverage, they had heard of the Anna Hazare movement in snatches, picked up from local newspapers.

Last evening however, the movement came to the village. Binda Yadav's son Dinesh Yadav, a 32-year-old father of five, set himself afire at Rajghat shouting 'Anna Zindabad'. With 90 per cent burns, he is struggling for life at Delhi's LNJP Hospital.

An uncomprehending Binda Yadav, surrounded by villagers, is struggling for answers. Is he angry with the Central Government? He says no. Fishing out Dinesh's passport-size photo from his kurta, the 60-year-old adds that he isn't angry with Dinesh either. "My son was educated. Something must have crossed his mind... But a poor father fears losing part of his soul."

Dinesh had left the village on August 21 telling his family that he would return the next day. Instead, he caught a train to Delhi to apparently join the Anna movement. It was last night that the Dulhin Bazar police station in-charge called them to tell them that Dinesh had set himself on fire.

As Dinesh's wife Malmatiya Devi (28) weeps inconsolably inside their mud-and-thatch house, partly surrounded by water following rains, her eldest son Guddu (11) hesitatingly reads out news on his father from a local daily.

The Class VII student narrates to the villagers that his father had a Gandhi cap and lathi with him when he poured petrol on himself and lit a match. "I had seen Papa leaving with a bag," Guddu suddenly whispers. Since last night, he and his four siblings have just eaten biscuits.

The BPL card holder family has a small plot of agricultural land. Unable to work in the fields any more, Binda's hopes rested on Dinesh - the only matriculate among his four brothers. His two younger brothers work in a Delhi factory as workers.

Dinesh had worked in Delhi as a watch salesman for nine years before coming back to Bihar five years ago. Ever since, he would shuttle between the village and Patna for livelihood. For the past month though, he had been in the village.

Villagers say Dinesh would regularly read the newspapers since Hazare began his protest, along with some other residents. "We would discuss if Anna could really help control corruption. Dinesh became a staunch Anna supporter," says village elder Rajbir Prasad. However, he adds, Dinesh never talked about going to Delhi or taking any extreme step.

With doctors not hopeful of his survival, the family has little to go on. Younger brother Amarjit, who is attending on Dinesh at the Delhi hospital, says he hasn't got consciousness since the incident. Four other villagers reached Delhi on Wednesday to see Dinesh.

Mother Maya Devi wishes Dinesh had spared a thought even once for his children and wife. "Mazdoori karke Dinesh ko padaye the (Had educated him with my daily wages)," she says, sobbing.

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