Pride and Pakistan in Gaya's Mahadalit colonies

Pride and Pakistan in Gaya's Mahadalit colonies

Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar. PTI file photo

In scores of Mahadalit colonies of Magadh, life is all about basics, even a day before voting. But the messaging of national security seems to have hammered home. So is the caste pride. 

"Pakistan Murdabad," shouts five-year-old Shravan Kumar at Gehlore.

Just 10 kilometers away in Lohjara basti, where 90 Mushar (mouse catcher) families live in the foothill, water is a luxury as pumps have gone dry with water table drastically down.

A loosely planted iron board says Adarsh Gram (ideal village). Sunita Devi, a resident, complaints, "leave aside livelihood, even water is a rare commodity. There is only one bore well. Every morning and evening there is a big fight over water."

Another resident Mithilesh Manjhi says about half of the villagers have got houses under Indira Awas Yojana. The foothill, dotted with Mushar villages and tolas, had once been the hotbed of naxal activities. Now there is a road in front of the tolas, brought by CM Nitish Kumar.

Slow development in region

But good governance has been slow to come in the Mahadalit tolas of Bihar. 12-year-old Kiran in Nawada Bhuian toli says she wants to study but parents do not send her to school. A resident, Sukan Manjhi explains, "parents have no option. They have to send small kids to work in farms of others. Elder kids have left homes to the town or metros in search of livelihood."

Do the Mushars really eat mouse or it is just a myth? An apparently irritated Mohan Chaudhary blurts out: "What is wrong in it? The poor do. We used to dig ratholes, chased and caught them and then there was a feast. What to do? This year also there is no rain. Paddy crop is destroyed."

He says that while in 2014 they had voted for Narendra Modi, "there is nothing clear this time." More over, all the candidates are from his own community. It is a reserved Parliamentary constituency since 1967 and has been represented mostly by members of Mushar community.

When Gaya casts its vote on Thursday, thousands of youths from schedules castes in Magadh will be sweating it out in brick kilns or building construction work in other big cities.