Ravishankarji.. Munna mar gaya,

Last week…. !

Amarnath Tewary


Munna Rai was not Satyendra Dubey. Barring his beardless innocent age and humble background nothing was common between them. He was neither a whistleblower nor an IITian. And, so Munna's quiet death failed to move the crusader, constructive media managers and serious looking, afro hair-do and erudite editors to be on page 1… or even four or five. No flier follow-ups… no moving letter-writing.

But didn't Munna deserve all this? didn't Munna, like Dubey, was inspired with inborn impulse of revolt ignited by a new spirit of action?, didn't Munna, again like Dubey, paid the price of his life fighting the frustrated system?, or did not Munna, once more like Dubey-ji, was a signal to the corrupt society we live in today?.

Twenty-four year old Munna Rai was a rebel of our time. Camus's character. Or, so we say.

Rebellion cannot exist without strange form of love. Sure, Sir Herbert Read.

Ravishankarji… Munna mar gaya, last week.

Hope you must not have heard this as it didn't make page 1 story. Invisible single column on page five, agency report--- where politicians of your stature don't even turn to.

But, you applied for more security cover, of late, didn't you?

No, sir, its not to demean your high-terrestrial tribe promising to take the state ahead, in order with the country. Perhaps, beyond that.

It's neither even to make Munna's death a martyr. This is only to put on paper what was his genuine grief---and relief as well. His frustration. Complaints. Depression close to insane index.

But Munna was certainly NOT a lunatic. Nor even a fanatic as many led us to believe.

Pix: Prashant Ravi

He was like many of us. Like you, like me---and like most of our nearly three crore youths of the state. His father even resembled name of my grandfather for whom work has always been worship.

He also had died a quiet death. Alone amidst abundance.

Munna Rai aka Hulchul Rai quite really made ripples in the country with his thoughts, light, katta and action. His first-hand pieces written on rough pale papers guide us towards all: Tujhe fikr hai kisi ek ki, mujhe purey Hindustan ki.--- [here, translation would be an another injustice with him].

It was Munna's attempt to understand the time we live in--- a period, which within 15 years uprooted, undermined, crippled and killed eighty million human beings, should only, and forthwith, be condemned. Its guilt also must be understood.

And, he did it with a fire-not aimed at precisely. Shot in the arm for Ravishankarji. Pramodji, Ramprasad Churasiaji and their ilk too felt the shaking splinter.

For them it was murderous attack. For Munna it was a signal reaction.

For them it was attack on BJP. For Munna it was attack on corrupt political system.

For them it was individual. For Munna it was for their tribe. For them it was singular, for Munna, it was plural.

For fifteen long years of suffering. Munna must be nine when things had started falling apart. He had lived with it, felt it both physically and emotionally.

Munna's mother had died when he was just eight. Since then he was a loner, admitted his father.

Struggling hard to meet his both ends he even drove auto-rickshaw on the bumpy Auranagabad roads. Matriculate Munna then, like millions of us, left for Delhi to earn his livelihood. Like millions of us he got it too, however, like very few of us, returned to roots.

Dejected. Depressed. Hoping against hope.

For three months he kept fighting with his loneliness, thoughts getting rebellious and pitying contempt… and societal ridicule. Fed-up with the perjury of political masters and their Janus-face.

One fine morning The Rebel rose to his haunting environs and introspection.

And, the rest of course is history.

Lying on Bed No. 45 inside the surgical ward of PMCH, Munna fought a hopeless battle for well over 18 days. Lost battle. Only his heart-broken father by his side on a blue plastic stool.

Laksman Rai, though, nursed his hope for his eldest child's survival. Staring vacuously at his sons' half-opened puffed eyes, poultice-like swelled lips and eggwhite bandaged head hinged on the blood-soaked bed-sheet, Rai after some time of interaction could not hold his held-up tears from rolling down on his unshaved cheeks.

Once it started, tears kept falling down incessantly for more time. Like my father or of many of us who come from such middle class, modest, desi-school, rural background.

A religious man Lakshman Rai heard the news when he was performing kirtan, puja at his village temple in Karhansi, Rohtas. Faith shaken.

Later shattered and subsequently failed. Why Munna?, how Munna?, whence Munna?, asked he from his dumb yet always smiling gods and deities.

Shayad Bhagwan ko yehi manjur tha! [the most sought after solace of hindi heartland].

Munna was never like this. He had a good company of friends and had never ever hurt anyone, claimed many in his village.

Ravishankarji have you heard this. Hope you might not have.

How could you? You had flown to Patna first and then to Delhi for splinter injured hand. A trendy, state-of-the-art bandage later.

Munna was brought to Patna by road and dumped into clinically paralysed PMCH to die. You never even bothered to take any notice of him whom your party supporters had lynched nearly to death.

Later, you and your colleague in trauma, Pramod Mahajan even demanded a CBI inquiry. But no one cared for Munna---not even the attending doctors at PMCH.

Only the four heavily armed guards were the seeming life support of Munna who too looked interested only in being photographed standing by his bedside.

The visiting photojournalists too took pride in getting exclusives each time they clicked Munna lying under the shadow of gun at his hospital bed.

Ravishankarji, you could have had more political mileage by taking notice of, care of dying Munna. You could have shown the world why your party BJP is a party with difference. You could have displayed tolerance, forgiveness and benevolence of your personality…. and of your party.

But you missed the bus… and so the party also. Munna slipped into death quietly on October 24. Last Monday.

His rebel-cause too besmirched with his death

But, we need your ghost Munna… your courage… your conviction…. your fire…!

We need your ghost to knock at the doors of toungeless tribe at night this Diwali… scare them in their noiseless AC sleep….

So, don't make us fool and frustrated with your false promises, our dear Netaji.

Munna is watching. This time many more by his side.

…Perhaps that could get Bihar rid of all ills. Who knows?

Not even Albert Camus or Sir Herbert Read.




Munna's story is very touching. I can imagine what circumstances and what frustrations could ignite the mind of this youth? Our leaders or should I say the so-called leaders must treat it as a wake-up call. Every human life is precious and deserves respect and dignity. They must also not forget, "Jis desh ka bachpan bhukha ho, phir uski jawani kya hogi?"
Ashok Malhotra
Ann Arbor, Mi U.S.A.



The comments by some readers living outside India are shocking. We always thought or it is generally conceived that the more international exposure we get, the better or broader our outlook becomes. But it is disappointing to see our learned Bihari NRIs still addressing these corrupt and immoral politicians by adding "Ji" towards their name. Seems like we still live in the jamindari era and doing the "jee hoozori" which shows our mentality of a slave. Why should one bow his head towards anyone. Every work is dignified and no one should bow in front of anyone but god (if not an atheist).
The writer is not trying to glorify the crimes of Munna but through his journalistic piece he is portraying the complexities of a human tragedy and particularly in Bihar. It also shows the gap between haves and have-nots. In the more the gap grows the worse the situation will get, i.e creating more frustration in the youth and hence leading towards more of desperation. I would like to pose a question. How many youths from a metropolitan city who have a full time good job (I mean satisfied with their situation) will think about committing a crime. I bet, none. But do a survey and ask the youth in Bihar. I bet there would be hundreds who are frustrated by the current situation and are willing to go to any extreme to express themselves. Just by providing symptomatic treatment (e.g. killing Munna) and not looking at the cause (providing adequate education, jobs etc.) will not change the current desperate scenario. We need lots of hard work, some luck and dedicated politicians who have an agenda of development and can direct the raw energy of the Bihari youth towards a positive agenda and not misuse it to better their lot and most important rise above the caste and creed. Thanks

Ambuj Kumar, Tampa, FL, USA
e-mail: drambuj@hotmail.com




I am the only reader who has referred to the politicians as “Ji”. Therefore, I am obligated to advocate my point after reading your second posting. While you may view addressing somebody as Sir or Ji as something reminiscent of Zamindari era, I do not consider it that way. Therefore, I have preferred to address you as Ji as well.

I do not agree with the views of the author of this article (Amarnath Tewaryji) and you strongly agree with him. Therefore, you have lambasted me in your second posting and tried your best to find faults in my posting. Well, you have got it wrong on couple of accounts:

1. I am not the only one to refer the politicians as Ji. The author (Amarnath Tewaryji) has also referred to them as Ji. Do you consider the author as a slave to the politicians, especially when he has written strongly against them? If you look at the names of the three politicians in my posting, they are just cut and paste from the original article (an incorrect dot, instead of comma, proves this point.)

2. Since when did addressing somebody as Ji started to mean subjugation? Isn’t there a word called etiquette?

3. When you entered the DMV office for your learner permit, the lady at the reception desk smiled at you and asked, “How may I help you, sir?” Did you consider her your slave? Same thing happened when you went to buy a Subway sandwich or to deposit a check at the bank counter. Do you consider all of them as your slave? What about the lady at the payroll office at USF?

4. I am theist. I, of course, bow to the almighty God. But, I do not consider addressing somebody as Ji, Sir, Ma’m or Ms as something diminishing my dignity.

5. I believe that credentials on the wall do not make somebody a decent humane being. Being polite and amassing wealth or degrees/certificates are not mutually exclusive. They can go hand-in-hand, and in any peaceful society they must coexist.

6. I am glad I referred to those politicians a Ji. I will do the same a thousand times. I will do the same to you, and the author, and the editor. Me addressing politicians or anybody as Ji tells something about me and not them. There is no reason to draw conclusions about politicians because I am referring to them as Ji.

Coming back to the cause/frustration of Munna, there is no substance in this article. It is based on a farce premise and it uses inappropriate logics to arrive at utterly flawed conclusions. The article suggests that three crores youths of Bihar should go ahead and shoot all the politicians. This will solve all the problems of Bihar. This is exactly what Munna did and this is exactly what this article is glorifying. No, this does not make any sense. This must be stopped. This is all so wrong. Munna is (was) a murderer. He is not a martyr. He must be condemned. He must pay the price (he has already paid the price) for his acts. He must be held accountable for the attempted murder. There is no point in praising him.

Pradeep Rai
Houston, TX 77005.




Dear Pradeep-Ji,

First, I would like to thank you for initiating this dialogue in such a healthy manner.

1. Now coming to the point of the “Jee or Ji”. Any respect or addressing each other has to be reciprocal. I am not against using Ji or sir for that matter but I am against the use of jee in the current scenario described in the article. For example I have addressed you as ji this time as you have addressed me too. But how many time you have heard or seen a politician or from a person in power using the word ji for the common man?
Another example…a poor rickshaw puller who works hard all day waiting for a rider might address the police crossing his stand with ji, mai baap etc. But does the police addresses him with respect such as Ji? I bet no. Now tell me why that guy working hard all day and honestly has to bow (with Ji) in front of any one? So my friend when you provide the example of the DMV in the US, it is reciprocal and you are ignoring the differences in the ground realities of USA and Bihar. And from these examples which I mentioned earlier I derive the conclusion that Ji is not a wrong term but the context in which it is and has been and being used reflects the slave mentality or the relationship of the master and the slave. The respect has to come from both sides.

2. Now coming back to the frustration of the youth or in other words failing to stand up to the aspiration of the youth which the author potrays. The author is not defending Munna. I think what he is trying is to showcase the ground realities of living as a youth in the rural areas of Bihar. Second if there was a crime committed, which I also agree there was, the criminal should be prosecuted and not lynched by the mob. But before you come to the prosecution, just go back and rethink the whole scenario. From the media and other reports what we know that Munna was not mentally sound. So in the first place the person belonged to a mental treatment facility (which sadly do not exist) and not at that rally (you will agree that sick people are not prosecuted in the US even). So the system failed him again.

3. I would say that dear friends, everything in our world is not exactly black and white. There s gray line too. So before judging instantly that anyone is criminal please get our facts together and let the supposedly committed criminal have a day in court (fast) and that should apply to everyone (the common man and high and mighty too). How many times have you heard that a politician of criminal precedent has been successfully prosecuted?

4. And the day when the rule of the land is applied evenly to everyone regardless of the status then I think would be more appropriate when we address each other with ji, or sir in an reciprocal manner.

So in summary the author is not praising or glorifying Munna but just making the readers aware that every coin has two sides. Please do not rush to judge but have an objective view because some times what we see from our naked eye is also not always true. And on a lighter note, lets reserve the use of jee or ji or sir on the basis of reciprocity and not unconditionally. And majority of our politicians certainly do not deserve that.

Thank you

Ambuj Kumar,

Tampa, USA



Dear Ambuj-ji,

Thanks for your reply. I agree with some of your points, but not all. In particular, following points are contentious:

1.If you adjudged that I addressed those politicians with suffix Ji because of subjugation or mentality of a slave, nothing could be farther from truth. You know that you are misleading yourself and others on this account.
2.I am glad that you agreed Munna did commit a crime. I agree that Munna should have stood a fair trial in a court of law. He should not have been lynched by the mob. I never defended the public for their lowly act. But, the politicians in question could not be held accountable for these acts of the masses. The only way I rationalize (I emphasize, I am only rationalizing, not defending) the behavior of public is: how your loved ones will treat me when I throw stones at you?
3.In the same token/spirit, those politicians should stand a free & fair trial for their crimes and complicity in corruption/immorality/inefficiency. They should not be shot at in a public gathering.
4.Ex-premier of India, Late shri P.V. Narsimha Rao, did stand a trial. Outcome of the trial is a minor issue. Of course, you are reading news about Shahabuddin and former UP minister Amar Mani Tripathi.
5.Please allow me to pose a question to you and the author as well. The gist of this
article is: Munna is an educated, frustrated and unemployed youth. People to blame for his worst plight are all the politicians. So, Munna is perfectly justified to shoot at the politicians. Now, imagine another scenario: I have twenty something cousins. All are educated – either intermediate pass or BA/BSc/BCom. Also, all of them are unemployed. They had their bit of luck and fame in Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Surat (Gujarat), Nainital (then UP, now Uttaranchal) and Hisar (Haryana). Now, they are back to pavilion. Of course, tired of everything. So, here is my question: Shall I ask all of my unemployed and frustrated cousins to pick some politicians and shoot them? After all, this is what Munna did and this is what this article is glorifying. This is the teaching/message of this article. If your answer is YES, you will define anarchy. If your answer is NO, then this article does not deserve to have been written at first place by the ‘special correspondent of The Pioneer’.
6.Eliminating a politician is not an exemplary way to lead a struggle against injustice.
7.Killing a politician will not rectify the corrupt political system.
8.Shooting somebody (politician or sweeper) is not a right way to vent the frustration.
9.By no means, I am defending Ravi Shankar Prasadji or any other inefficient politician. I have only negative words for all the politicians. But, no matter what, I cannot sympathize with a person who chose to use gun as a solution to his problems.

Best wishes,



Your story touches the heart and your point is well expressed that it is the system which is creating this response from millions of our youth like Munna whose vision was dashed right at the childhood.

It is not about Ravishankarji, it is not about a political party, but it is about what we as individuals are doing to make difference in Bihar so that Munna could have got help when it was needed at the age of 9 when he started to fall apart physically and emotionally.

Amarnath excellent work and I hope the heart touching real stories about the
ordinary people are brought up more often by other journalists in the same way as you have done.

Munna can not be brought back, but the learning and commitment to make a positive difference in Bihar will keep on going. A new start a new Bihar for our Youth and next generation.

Ramesh Yadav

It is sad that such a good piece also will be buried along with Munna. The elite has lost all the morality. And no one understands any color or creed but only the color of money. Good job and atleast you did your part. Thanks

Ambuj Kumar, MD, MPH
Department of Cancer Control
H.Lee . Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
at the University of South Florida
Tampa, FL33612
e-mail: kumara@moffitt.usf.edu



It is absolutely amazing, and surprising that a journalist of your stature would try to condone the actions of a criminal. Im absolutely appalled. There can be no justification for shooting and trying to kill any1. and it is absurd that this criminal has been compared to the 3 crore other youth in bihar, being a bihari youth, it is an insult and a disgrace.
Im shocked and im sure there would be a lot of other people who are too.

Bihar and its people deserve an apology from Mr. Amarnath Tewary. I had no idea that journalists had casteist considerations while writing.The whole point of the article is absurd and repulsing.I had to vent my feelings.

Aditya Sinha
Programmer, Fujitsu Australia,
Canberra, Australia.


I don't have words to say after reading this article. The subject touches deep in your mind. I am proud that BIHAR has such depth in its journalism and in its youth.

I salute Mr. Journalist. If your heat can reach me, who stays 7 oceans far at other end of the world, I wonder’ why don’t people get burned who stays near by you??
Thanks & Regards,

Tarakeswar Dubey,
Chile Regional Development Centre,
Citibank N. A.
E-mail : tarakeswar.dubey@citigroup.com



Are you trying to justify that Munna was right? Just because he wrote a wonderful piece of poetry: “Tujhe fikr hai kisi ek ki, mujhe purey Hindustan ki,” it does not mean that his motives were right. No matter what his motives were, you cannot justify him aiming at Ravishankarji, Pramodji, Ramprasad Churasiaji. Nothing can mitigate his crimes. By the way, how do you hold Ravishankarji. Pramodji, Ramprasad Churasiaji responsible for the plight of Bihar since Munna was eight years old? Please tell me how your loved ones will treat me when I throw stones at you?

No, Munna was not a whistleblower. There is no point in comparing him with SK Dubeyji.

Pradeep Rai
Houston, TX 77005




Amarnath Tewary
Patna based special correspondent of The Pioneer