A Mauritian civil servant finds Indian roots

May 24th, 2008 - 10:55 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Navinchandra Ramgoolam
By Jatindra Dash
Bhubaneswar, May 24 (IANS) A Mauritian civil servant has discovered that his great great grandfather was an Indian - in all likelihood from Orissa - and was brought to Mauritius as indentured worker over 135 years ago. Ramroop Jugurnauth, 47, is a civil servant in the Human Resource cadre in the Ministry of Civil Service of Mauritius. He lives in Beau Bassin, one of the largest towns in that country and has not been to Orissa yet.

“I have been interested in my roots since my childhood when I usually heard my dadaji (grandfather) speak about his family,” Jugurnauth told IANS in an online interview.

To substantiate his claim, Jugurnauth has sent IANS scanned the copies of some handwritten papers in Oriya that he discovered from his home.

This is not all. “I also carried out research at the Immigration Archives in Mauritius and found that my ancestors were Brahmin born,” he said.

“I also found that they came to Mauritius in 1870 as indentured labourer from a village called Jajpore in the district of Cuttack,” he said.

Jajpore village, from where Ramroop’s great great grandfather hailed, is today Jajpur district.

When slavery was abolished, the then British rulers had to find ways and means to sustain development of the island for their own interests. So they took recourse to indentured labour from India, which was also a British colony at that time, he said.

“My great great grandfather, Juggurnauth Immigrant No.352036 (this is how indentured workers were all identified), came to Mauritius as an indentured worker in 1870.

“The copy of the archives record that I found in Mauritius shows that one of his sons, Satta Bajee, was the father of my dadaji (grandfather) Shyamsoondur and my father was Parmeswar,” he said.

Jugurnauth has two daughters Chitra and Kritika, aged 10 and 8 respectively. His family has Mauritian nationality.

His wife, Kesha, is an Indian music teacher in secondary schools in Mauritius. She graduated in north Indian classical music from the University of Mauritius.

The search for Indian roots received a fillip in Mauritius after Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam visited his ancestral village in Bhojpur district in Bihar during his February tour.

His visit to Harigaon village attracted a great deal of attention in Mauritius and moved many people of Indian origin to begin a search for their roots.

(Jatindra Dash can be contacted jatindra.d@ians.in)

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