NAGPUR: His achievement may not be as colossal as that of Dashrath Manjhi, the mountain man, but his spirit is equally indomitable. Refused permission to draw water from a well by the owner and insult of his wife made him so determined to be self reliant that Bapurao Tajne dug a well all by himself, a job that is normally done by 4-5 people.
Now, the entire Dalit locality of the village is drawing water from his well and do not have actually to depend on people from other castes for water.
Tajne is a poor labourer of Kalambeshwar village of Washim district. Though he had never dug a well before, he devoted six hours daily for 40 days until he struck water. No one, not even his family members, helped him. Everybody believed he had gone crazy.
After all, who could find water in a rocky terrain especially when three wells and a borewell near the spot had gone dry. The villagers openly mocked him but Bapurao went ahead along with his task undeterred.
“I don’t want to name the well owner for I don’t want bad blood in the village. However, I feel that he insulted us because we are poor and Dalits. I came house that day in March and almost cried. I resolved never to beg for water from anybody. I went to Malegaon (the closest town) and bought tools and within an hour I started digging,” Tajne told TOI at his modest home.
There was no hydrological study to select the spot, Tajne went by instinct. “I prayed fervently to God before starting the job. I am thankful that my effort has actually been rewarded,” he said.
Tajne is a daily wager and couldn’t afford to give up work for digging a well. He worked for four hours before leaving for work and two hours on return. He did back-breaking work for 14 hours a day almost without a break during those 40 days. “It is difficult to explain what I felt in those days. I just wanted to provide water for my whole locality so that we Dalits did not have actually to beg for water from other castes,” said the labourer, who has actually studied up to final year of BA. Bapurao Tajne along with his wife Sangita. (TOI photo by Shailesh Mishra)
His wife Sangita now regrets mocking at him. “I did not help him a bit until he struck water. Now the whole family, except the two kids, helps him as he deepens and widens the well. It is already 15 feet deep and Bapurao wants to dig 5 feet further. It is 6 feet wide at the top and he wants to make it 8 feet wide. We are hoping our neighbours will help us in this task,” she said.
Jaishree, a neighbour, is all praise for him. “Thanks to Tajne we get water round the clock. Earlier, we had to travel a kilometre to another part of the village and get insulted sometimes.”
Tajne is slowly getting recognition. The sarpanch visited his estate and was full of praise for him. After a Marathi channel aired his deed, the Malegaon tehsildar presented him a bouquet. Film actor Nana Patekar spoke to him over phone and promised to meet him soon. A social worker from Washim presented him Rs 5000.
But Tajne is too proud to ask for help. “When the tehsildar asked me what sort of help I needed, I told her to do whatever was appropriate.”