Shambhu Dayal,on dharna at Jantar Mantars famed protest street since August last year,wants to start afresh. When he finally gets his dues,he wants to marry,start a business and live a secure life. At 60,he is surprisingly full of hope.
I want to get the money and then live a normal life, he says.
Dayal has many complaints against the authorities,ranging from government apathy to red tapism. After running around for more than 15 years to claim his late fathers pension and gratuity money due to him,this resident of Jagdishpur came to Delhi hoping his dharna would speed up things. And it did,he says.
A letter from the Prime Ministers Office was sent to the officer concerned to pay the dues after Dayal submitted his petition to the government. But once again,things have been held up,lost in the labyrinth of government offices. The money due around Rs 4 lakh isnt a lot,But its enough to give me a start, he says.
Dayals father died in 1977 after retiring from the post of a driver at a primary health clinic in 1976. Dayal was appointed as a driver in the same clinic,but quit his job after his only surviving son went missing. As the dues were not claimed for immediately,things became difficult when Dayal went to collect the money later.
Dayal and his relative took permission from the commissioner last year for their dharna and will now only return to their native Uttar Pradesh after their demands are met,he says.
For now,he is waiting.
In Delhi,he stays alone in a shanty next to the New Delhi Municipal Corporation food stalls most of the time. An old bed sheet,posing as a curtain,separates his space from another protest.
Being on dharna at Jantar Mantar thrusts one in the public eye and way all the time,he admits. But often you have to give up something to gain something, he adds.
It helps that this is a neighbourhood of fellow protestors. Even in these temporary settings,there is a fleeting sense of permanence. Letters arrive on the protest street by name and theres a phone booth to receive calls. We have and understand one another. We are all waiting and we bond on that, Dayal says. In his case,of course,the wait is on for a new beginning as well.
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