Saturday, July 7, 2007

A SUDDEN TURN OF FORTUNES

All roads lead to Taya Tope's house, it's a sudden turn of fortunes, Vinayak Rao Tope decides to perform marraiges of his daughters with social dignity

BY RAMANAND

BITHOOR (KANPUR), July 6 : Vinayak Rao Tope, the heirs of frontline leader of the first independence war of 1857 Tatya Tope, and his wife Saraswati Tope would perform marriages of their both the daughters Pragati, 25 and Tripti, 21, now employees of Container Corporation of India, a public sector undertaking of the Indian Railway with "pride and social dignity".

And, for this, the Tope heirs have expressed their gratitude to the Union Minister for Railway Lalu Prasad, Union Minister for Corporate Affairs Prem Chand Gupta, Rajya Sabha MP from Maharastra Vijay Darda and Delhi-based couple Neena and Shivnath Jha.

"Ab humey apni beti ki shadi karney mein kisi se bhikh nahin mangna parega, mein Neenaji, Shivnathji ko dhanyabad deta hun jo humey Kendriya Corporate mantri Sri Prem Guptaji and Kendriya Rail mantri Laluji ke pas ley gaye aur hamara jirnoddhar kiya," the 52-year-old Vinayak Rao Tope and his 45-year-old wife Saraswati Tope with tears in their eyes told this correcpondent an hour after their arrival from New Delhi at their Lava-Kusha Nagar house in Bithoor, about 33 kilometre from Kanpur, the major industrial town of Uttar Pradesh.

It was a festive day today for the people of Bithoor. They started rushing to Tatya Tope house to congratulate Vinayak Rao Tope, who has decided to shutdown his one-year-old Gajanan Kirana and General Store (named after Lord Ganesha) after their rehabilitation.

For them, July 4, 2007 was the real Independence Day as Lalu Prasad and Prem Chand Gupta have rehabilitated the entire family. Till date, Vinayak Rao Tope was selling grocery items and get some food from his 'jajmans' (masters) by conducting religious ceremonies for them.

Irrespective of caste and creed and also their political affiliations, the people were chanting slogans of "Lalu Prasad zindabad, Prem Gupta zindabad, jha dampati zindabad." They were in jubiliant mood as if they won a war. They have reason. After moving pillar to since India became independent, the Tope heirs were fighting for their right – rehabilitation and at par with other freedom fighters - with the government.

At last, with the help of Neena and Shivnath, who rescued Vinayak Rao Tope's five-member family from Bithoor and kept them at his Indirapuram house in Ghaziabad for a week, Lalu Prasad and Prem Chand Gupta, honored Vinayak Rao Tope by giving employment to his two daughters Pragati Tope and Tripti Tope in the Container Corporation of India, owned by Indian Railways and also for putting Bithoor on the broad gauge map of Indian Railways.

A special envoy of Prem Chand Gupta is expected to visit next week to deliver a draft for Rs 5 lakh announced by Vijay Darda, a Rajya Sabha member and owner of Lokmat Group of Newspapers on July 4 at a function held in Rail Bhawan in New Delhi. It was really a sudden turn of fortunes for the family languishing in extreme poverty and squalor for the past five decades.

Sitting before more than 200-year-old statues of Godess Ganga of Baji Rao Peshwa-II regim, mentally relaxed Vinayak Rao Tope with tears in his eyes said: "Mein nahin janta hun kahan se bhagwan ne Neena aur Shivnath jhaji ko Bithoor bheja aur hamey Laluji ke pas ley gaye. Yeh sabhi kam Prem Chand Guptaji ke karan hua. Ab mujhey do sham ki roti mil jeyegi aur dono beti ki shadi bhi ho jayegi."

"I was unknown with the family who is living in Lav-Kush Nagar for centuries and their ancestors' contribution in the national movement. I read in the history book about Tatya Tope, it's really a re-birth of both Bithoor and Tope's family. Thanks to Laluji and Prem Guptaji," Mamta, 25, a resident of Bithoor said.

"Till now, barring auto-rickshaw, there is no commuting system between Bithoor and Kanpur. The metre gauge train is not working. No politicians or the government thought about our hardships in the past. The decision of Laluji to convert the existing metre gauge track between Mandhna and Brahmavrat, which connects Bithoor, to broad gauge and connected to the main Kanpur-Farukhabad line is really a victory of the people of Bithoor," Ram Awtar, a social activist said. claimed. The project would be completed in the current financial year.

May 1857, when the political storm was gathering momentum against the British rule, Tantya Tope fought along with Nana Saheb and Rani Lakshmibai. He was tried by a military court and despatched to the gallows on April 18, 1859.

A group of engineers of some private companies are also expected to visit the Tatya Tope Bhawan to construct a memorial and also provide a better living condition to the family, Vinayak Rao said adding "yeh sabhi Prem Guptaji ki kripa hai." A life-size statue of the martyr would also be installed there.

Lalu's action came in wake of a plea initiated by Neena and Shivnath of "Bismillah: The Beginning Foundation" who worked for more than six months on Tope's rehabilitation plan and visited Bithoor several times. The couple, who have launched a nationwide movement "Andolan Ek Pustak Se" two years ago to protect those who brought laurels to the nation, said: "We got full support from Laluji and Prem Guptaji in rehabilitating the family. They played a key role. It can not be possible without their support."

It may be mentioned that the couple has authored three books – Monograph on Ustad Bismillah Khan, India Calling and Lalu Prasad"India's Miracle – and decided to provide financial support for the marriages of Vinayak Rao Tope's daughters through the sale proceeds of the books.

"It will be grate tribute to late shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan and to promote his secular philosophy," the couple, who was here to see the family off to Bithoor on the instruction of Prem Gupta said.

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