Manoj Chaurasia/SNS

It was not very long ago when the stench of gunpowder would fill one’s nose in the Magadh division, a southern region comprising five districts once known as the “killing fields” of Bihar. This particular region reported not less than 150 massacres in between 1992 and 2004, the worst being the December 1998 Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre in Jehanabad district where at least 58 Dalit villagers were gunned down in cold blood by the armed squad of the dreaded Ranvir Sena, a private militia of the upper caste landlords.

How to survive the bullets thus remained the prime concern of the villagers then as bloody clashes between Maoists and the Ranvir Sena were very common. Wailings of villagers were routine phenomenon and the police looked busier in carrying bodies of the victims for post mortem houses. Peace and tranquility eluded just everywhere. A decade on, once Bihar’s “killing fields” have turned into a fertile ground of IITians, thanks to the “Magadh Super 30” coming to the aid of the poor talented children and transforming their lives without charging anything.

In the past seven years since this free coaching institute was launched in Gaya in 2008, it has helped around 30 students cracking the Indian Institute of Technology test. What has worked wonders is that success stories of the poor unprivileged children has inspired scores of youths in the neighbourhood toadopt education. This year as well, six students from this area qualified for the IIT. Of them, the case of Sonu Kumar Gupta who got the all-India rank of 1393 in the IIT stands as an inspiring story.

The boy from Pakri-Guria village under Maoist-infested Imamaganj block in Gaya district grew up amid the sounds of bombings and firing of guns as the encounters between the Maoist rebels and security forces were common in that part of the state. Meanwhile, the Magadh Super-30 secretary Pankaj Kumar Sinha said it gave him a lot of pleasures to fill colours in the lives of the unprivileged children. “We don’t charge anything from students in lieu of admitting them to our institute. This is literally free of cost,” said Mr Sinha adding he had the satisfaction to say that he had provided a platform to the unprivileged.