CISF jawan's poems on his father win Sahitya Akademi award

 Twenty-five years after his father was branded a wizard and subsequently ostracised, CISF constable Aditya Mandi found himself vindicated after he was awarded the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award for his Santhali poems penned in the memory of his dad.

Scripting a rare feat, 38-year-old Mandi is at present deployed at the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Farakka in West Bengal's Murshidabad district as part of the Central Industrial Security Force squad securing the facility.
His collection of poems 'Banchao Larhai' (struggle of life) speaks about the socio-economic life of Santhal tribals who live primarily in states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.

"My father was branded a 'daayan' by the people of my village in Bankura district of West Bengal when I was just 7- years-old. In our tribal system, a man can be called a witch by the society and ousted from participating in social events. I was totally shattered as my father who could not bear the ignominy and left the house, never to come back.

"Somewhere I find this award has comes as a vindication of my longing for him...my search for him. I believe he is still alive. May be when he knows I have won this reputed literary award he may come back," Mandi said, trying hard to control his emotions.

Mandi was brought up by his mother who did odd jobs to keep the house running.
"She took all the pains in life...I got a job in the CISF in 1992. I wrote these poems in order to enlighten people that such wrong should not happen to anyone. One should respect human life and not believe in age-old superstitions," he said.
Mandi was awarded the 'Sahitya Akademi' award along with 21 others in Delhi on February 14.

"The 190-page book has 114 poems," the CISF trooper said as he proudly recounted that he received the award in his 'Khaki' uniform among the august gathering of doyens of the literary world.

The Sahitya Akademi jury found Mandi's collection a "significant work in the field of Indian poetry in Santhali".

The CISF trooper, who is being hailed by his colleagues and officers, is well versed in Bengali, Hindi and English.

He has earlier won a number of literary honours before he became a recipient of Sahitya Akademi award.

The CISF headquarters has promised to help its new 'bard of Farakka' the best of facilities so that he can pursue his literary exploits.

"He will be provided with all the help to pursue his talent. He is a star for us and our troopers. The force is proud of his achievement," a senior CISF officer said.
Mandi had joined the CISF unit at Farakka last year after rendering duties at various other locations.

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