This, says the resident of Pilkhi village under Rajgir Police Station in Nalanda district, is his way of atoning for his 'sin' of hurling stones and mud balls at the distinguished scientist and teacher as well as at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 2008 when they came calling in connection with the revival of the ancient Nalanda university.
The former President, popularly known as 'Missile Man' and 'People's President, died of a cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong in Meghalaya on Monday evening.
"I was shocked to learn of his death and decided to skip food till he was buried (on Thursday morning in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu). It is a small gesture from me to pay my respect to him for what happened in 2008 when he and Nitish Kumar visited the proposed university site," Mahto said in a choked voice.
Mahto added he was part of a group of villagers who hurled stones at Kalam and Nitish Kumar to protest against inadequate compensation for 446 acres of land acquired in Rajgir for Nalanda University. He recalled that after their protest, Kalam invited him along with three other villagers and carefully listened to their grievances over the inadequate compensation. "Kalam gifted us such a big thing (university) that generations will benefit from it. But I and other villagers still feel guilty about the protest against him then," Mahto stated.