Sonu Sood promises to help Jha, who fought caste prejudice, pay his debts | Mumbai News

Nearly three weeks after he came to Mumbai from Delhi to meet actor Sonu Sood, whom he calls “gareebo ka masiha”, Khilanand Jha (65), who is under debt for taking loans to foot the medical bills of his wife who passed away, met him at his office on Wednesday. The Sunday Express reported Jha’s plight and how he was in Mumbai hoping to get some help from Sood.

The actor promised to help Jha, who stirred up a kind of a social revolution in  Bihar in the 1970s and 80s. A Brahmin who fell in love with a Dalit woman and married her, Jha took on a society steeped in casteism. As he faced harassment and ridicule over his choice, Jha fought back, sat on a hunger strike, got the establishment and even the Parliament to take note.

Talking to The Indian Express, Sood said, “ I met Khilanand Jha and heard his plight in detail. He has come to meet me from so far and I won’t let him go empty handed. I will help him in whatever capacity I can. I will also talk to his debtors to reduce the amount. I have asked him to give me a few days.” Thankful to Sood, Jha said, “ I met the actor. He heard me out and assured me that he will help. I am thankful.”

Days after The Sunday Express published his ordeal, several people came forward to help Jha. Dr Arun Gupta, a Delhi-based doctor, volunteered to pay 10 per cent of the total amount he owed and already transferred Rs 1.2 lakh to Jha’s account.”

Nearly three decades after he took on the Bihar government, his wife Minoti Paswan (62) died earlier this year, leaving Jha a broken man. Minoti died in April, three months after she suffered a paralytic stroke.

Jha, 65, who ran up a debt of Rs 12 lakh for her treatment, is in Mumbai with his younger son Pawan Kumar. Jha said that since his debtors started demanding money, he decided to seek Sonu Sood’s help as he had heard the actor helped a lot of poor people during Covid. He had said that if he didn’t manage to gather the money in Mumbai, he would end his life.

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After being asked to leave the house, Jha married Minoti in 1979 at the Jhanjharpur registration office in Madhubani. “It was tough, just like my father had warned. Every time Minoti went to get water from the public tap, people would clean it with mud before using it again. It was painful to see that,” he said.

Jha then managed to get a government job in Darbhanga but due to harassment by higher caste officers over his inter-caste marriage, he was forced to quit and go to Delhi. In Delhi, he worked as a caterer and later went on dharna against the Bihar government at Boat Club in Bandra.

His case caught the attention of the media and in 1985, CPI (M) MP Saifuddin Choudhary raised the issue in the Lok Sabha. Event-ually, then Bihar CM Bindeshwari Dubey called on Jha at the Boat Club and promised him a job and action against errant officers. However, nothing came out of it.

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