Bihar flood brings rich and poor closer in relief camps

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Purnia, Sep 4 (UNI) The devastating floods and subsequent untold miseries of millions of people have for the first time washed away the age-old differences between the rich and the poor in the caste-driven society of Bihar.

As the surging water of the Kosi wreaked havoc on lakhs of people from all walks of life irrespective of their social and economic status, a scene of camaraderie was palpable in every locality as well as in various relief camps in different parts of flooded districts.

The fortnight-long unprecedented misery has, in fact, brought the rich and the poor closer and made them supportive of each other.

In one of more than 500 relief camps at Purnia railway station, one Raghuvansh Shah of Chatapur, the owner of huge landed and other property in the area, is now sharing the same platform with thousands of others, mostly poor, and daily labourers, which was otherwise unthinkable in the caste-driven society of Bihar.

Mr Shah's family is also gladly sharing the same food with hundreds of poorest of the poor in the same camp after standing in long queues with them for hours together to wait for their turn to come.

This too was quite unimaginable in the normal situation when the poor and downtrodden were mostly not allowed to even enter the houses of the affluent in large parts of rural Bihar.

But as the turbulent Kosi, after changing its course on Auguat 18, destroyed Mr Shah's pucca house and washed away all valuable furniture and other precious articles, besides inundating his entire farmland, he was forced to take shelter in the railway platform relief camp with his wife and four 'English-medium' schoolgoing children.

But interestingly this sudden change of fortune in most cases did not make these people dejected or allowed them to feel at a loss.

''On the contrary, we strongly feel and believe that it was just because of the grace of God that we have been able to survive,'' said Mr Shah and several other former landlords echoing a similar sentiment, among all others who had lost everything to the Kosi.

Similar story of many other 'former' rich landlords have also started emerging from other worst affected districts like Madhepura, Supoul, Araria and Saharsa where the once ''my-baaps'' had now turned pauper, but were 'happily' sharing the same 'khicri' from the relief camps with their poor brethren.

Describing the usual jostling for relief material in the camp with the poor as a 'unique and unforgettable experience', another rich flood victim Ravider Prasad, however, felt sad for his young children who too have to queue up for food along with thousands of others, to which they were never used to before as some of these people served in his field as daily labourers.

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