Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Last Updated: 21 May 13:16 PM IST
29 October 2012
Nilmani Mandi, widow of the legend, said her husband’s memory is what keeps her alive amidst poverty. “I also took part in the Maoist movement. Those days are still vivid. I still feel the thrill of challenging the state in my ailing, age-worn body,” she recounted
HATIGHISA( NAXALBARI), 29 OCT: The scourge of penury they feel every day, has failed to stamp out their spirit fully. “But starvation that keeps haunting them has definitely reduced the glory of history into dimness,” said a neighbour. They are the wife and son of the legendary Naxal rebel, Jangal Santhal who roused the oppressed into striking fear in those holding the reins of the state during those fateful days in the late 1960s. The family lives at north Sefdalla village, around 23 km from Siliguri, under the Hatighisa panchayat area.
Neighbours said the kin of the legend have been living on the little assistance they provide them with. “A few months ago, fate struck them hard as Santhal’s daughter-in-law died due to lack of treatment and nourishment,” said a neighbour.
Nilmani Mandi, widow of the legend, said her husband’s memory is what keeps her alive amidst the blight of poverty. “I also took part in the Maoist movement. Those days are still vivid. I still feel the thrill of challenging the state in my ailing, age-worn body,” she recounted with her grand children cluttering around her.
Recalling the days when the movement was striking an emotional chord among the poor Adivasis in the forest villages, she said it was almost love at first sight. “The day I met Jangal I fell frantically in love with the man who was rebelliousness incarnate. I took training under him about how to fight the class enemies and their detested agents with bows and arrows,” she said.
“We are living in dire poverty. My neighbours are kind enough to provide us with our daily sustenance. We wonder what would happen in case some serious aliment afflicts us. Perhaps we would die untreated as my daughter-in-law died,” she said, her body stooping with fatigue resulting from continuing under-nourishment.
Upen Kisku, Jangal’s son (48) and a wage earner, said their names do not figure in the BPL list. “Neither do we have ration cards now. I will not allow my ailing mother to go begging. But the situation is getting hard. But for our neighbours’ help it would have been impossible for us to get on,” Kisku said.