When Bhanu Vankar, a retired Talati and Ambedkarite, set himself on fire on Thursday, he not only caught the local administration and the police by surprise but even ended up stunning his own friends and acquaintances who knew him for more than two decades. A day after as Vankar, who suffered more than 80% burns, battles for life in the Apollo Hospital people who knew him cannot believe that a person so 'sane' could be part of this 'insanity'.
"He, of all people, would know how slowly the things work in the government. He helped everyone and was passionate about the Dalit cause. I cannot believe that he did something so terrible to himself," said Mithabhai Parmar, taluka panchayat chairman of the nyay samiti, who often interacted with Vankar on various issues.
"Perhaps, it was fate," is all that Parmar is willing to speculate. Haribhai Parmar, another activist who knew Vankar for more than two decades said the incident has come as a shock to everyone.
"He was one of the most sensible and soft spoken man I knew. He came forward to help everyone and this was precisely why Ramabhai and Hemaben approached them for help in the land matter. No one could have foreseen it would end like this," said Parmar.
Another person who knew Vankar said when they heard of the self immolation threat they assumed it to be an empty threat to get the administration into action. "Many times those who threaten self immolation also attempt it with kerosene that is mixed heavily with water. We thought even if any attempt was to be made it would be with diluted kerosene or limited to the people just throwing kerosene on themselves and not actually attempting immolation," said the person. He said he did not thing Vankar was capable of such an irrational act.
Another colleague who worked with him rued the fact that they were not kept in the loop. "This was not a problem that could not be solved and he need not pay such a high price to draw the government's attention to his frustration with the administration," said the colleague. Some of them admit that the cops had actually tried to trace Vankar and that he should have taken them into confidence if he was about to do something so drastic. "We would have counselled him against it," said one of the acquaintance.
Maghabhai Chamar, father of Rama Chama who was among the three people who threatened to self immolate themselves in front of the Patan Collectorate said that he had no clue his son had made such a threat. "I heard about it after the incident happened. I knew about the problem with the land and my son had been doing the rounds of the collector office for sometime but i did not know of his threat to self immolate," said Chamar.
Bhanu Vankar, he is a soft-spoken man who retired as a talati from Samkheda. Vankar is also known for his passion for the cause of the Dalit and is believed to be an Ambedkarite in action and thoughts. It is believed that Vankars refusal to bribe officials of the revenue department to get things done for Hemaben andRamabhai could have been one reason why he got frustrated with the slow pace of work in transferring the lands.
Vankar, took VRS, some time earlier, but had been active as an Ambedkarite even during his tenure as a government official. He belongs to a well-off family and his wife, Indu, is also a schoolteacher in a government school. One of his two sons is in Australia while the other lives with his parents. Those close to him say that he even used a substantial part of his pension for the cause of Dalits. He was also one of the founding members of the five caste youth federation that sought to work with youth from the five caste that formed part of the Dalit group. He was also actively involved with organising Ambedkar meets and was closely associated with Navsarjan, an organisation that works for Dalits.
Article Type: Report Sections: Ahmedabad India Authors: Smitha R Agencies: DNA Tags: Bhanu Vankar Talati Ambedkarite fire Apollo Hospital Dalit Mithabhai Parmar Maghabhai Chamar Sat, 17 Feb 2018-06:10am Date updated: Saturday, 17 February 2018 - 6:10am Article Images:
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