February 25, 2009 11:55:11 pm
Call it Gandhis second coming or dismiss it as the ramblings of a delusional man,you need to give Raj Ballam a patient hearing.
Propped against a wall from across Jantar Mantar,Ballam,hailing from Chhapra in Bihar,is a far cry from what Gandhi ever looked like. He has thick,cropped hair,looks well-fed and is dressed in trousers and a shirt,albeit a soiled one.
Ballam,41,however,claims to be Mohandas Karamchand Gandhis reincarnation. The Mahatma didnt shave his head or take to wearing a loin cloth in his early days as a young lawyer in South Africa,he says to defend his appearance. So give him time and the right to sit on Gandhis Samadhi at Rajghat and everything else will fall in place,he claims.
For now,the man who ran away from home at a young age,sits on dharna asking for an governmental inquiry into his reincarnation claims. He also wants an investigation into his charges of being allegedly tortured while serving a prison term of several years after he tried to sit on Gadhis Samadhi. He says he was injected with morphine and then pronounced delusional by a 2003 High Court order.
After being released,he lingered around the Samadhi again because it was there that he could see his previous life in flashes,and still finds peace.
Remember that Gandhi said I will come again, Ballam says. I want to show them what he said was true.
But after being kicked out again,he arrived at the protest street armed with papers,petitions and a resolve.
Ask him what he wants eventually and he says,Peace for all. As a labourer who dropped out of school at a young age,he argues that his knowledge about Gandhi is not from textbooks. Recurrent dreams,visions and the voices in his head told him he was the chosen one and he has to finish what the Mahatma couldnt.
Ballam has forgiven Godse too. He was misguided, he says.
A poster proclaiming Ballam as the king of the Indian subcontinent hangs on the wall. He made it himself. On the protest street,he is known as Gandhiji. Fellow protestors joke about his cause and tease him about Kasturba Gandhi. Ballam doesnt mind.
For now,he is a part of the fraternity of protesters. And even though the other protestors might not mean it,Ballam is happy. They see it, he says. Everyone else will see it too.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.