Decked-up ancestral village awaits Mauritius PM

February 19th, 2008 - 12:57 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Navinchandra Ramgoolam

Harigaon (Bihar), Feb 19 (IANS) Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam’s ancestral village in Bihar’s Bhojpur district has been decked up like a bride by the residents and local administration to welcome him Tuesday. Ramgoolam will visit Harigaon village, about 70 km from Patna, Tuesday afternoon and spend about three hours there. He will fly into the village from the state capital in an Indian Air Force helicopter.

Ranvijay Singh, who claims to be a relative of Ramgoolam, said: “The entire village is decorated like a bride. Children have put up colourful flags, dozens of colourful welcome gates have been erected and all the roads cleaned.”

Villagers have been eagerly looking forward to the Mauritius prime minister’s visit.

“We are happy and excited that Navinchandra Ramgoolam is visiting Harigaon, his ancestral village. We are proud of him. After all, a son of the soil rose to become prime minister of Mauritius,” Dhaneshwar Mahto, in his 60s, told IANS.

A group of women will sing Bhojpuri folk songs to welcome the Mauritius prime minister while schoolchildren will greet him at the helipad.

“It is no less than a festival for villagers here. After all, a grandson of this village, who became the Mauritius prime Minister, is coming to pay respects to his roots,” said Santosh Singh, a villager in his late 20s.

Ramgoolam will Tuesday lay the foundation stones of various development projects in his ancestral village. On Monday, he announced $250,000 for the development of roads and a hospital here.

Till a month ago, Harigaon was like any other village in rural Bihar - without roads, electricity and a health centre. But it has been given a facelift after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar paid a visit here last month following its identification as the ancestral village of former Mauritius prime minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the father of Navinchandra Ramgoolam.

Now, all the dusty lanes have been covered by concrete, solar lights installed, and the village pond beautified and named after the Mauritius prime minister’s grandfather Mohit Ramgoolam.

Mohit Ramgoolam was one of the hundreds of labourers forcibly taken by the British from Bihar to work in Mauritius sugarcane plantations in 1871. About 60 percent of the 1.2 million population of Mauritius is of Indian origin, a large number of them from Bihar with Bhojpuri as their mother tongue.

The Bihar government is now planning to develop Harigaon as a model village with a hospital, school as well as other basic infrastructure, and turn it into a tourist spot, especially for visitors from Mauritius.

Ramgoolam, who arrived in Bihar Monday on a three-day visit, was overcome by emotion when he landed in Patna. The Mauritius prime minister touched the ground after alighting from the aircraft and smeared some mud on his forehead.

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