Sunday, April 22, 2012

Setting a Precedent

President of India
President of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The trouble with women's empowerment is that, carried away, people forget that there is the husband too!

Till yesterday, the bio-data of Pratibha Patil acclaimed her as the Founder-Chairperson of the Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank. Suddenly, we are told she has had no connection with it since 1994! Till yesterday her bio-data stated that she is 'The Chief Promoter and Chairperson of a Sugar Factory in Jalagaon District.' Suddenly, we are to believe that she has had no connection with this factory either - certainly not since it closed its doors having swallowed Rs. 20 crore in unpaid loans.

That leaves her strenuous endeavours for education. We have already had a glimpse of the Engineering College . But there are also the schools.The staff is bitter. To illustrate their plight, they bring documents that nail how a teacher was treated; how he was driven to suicide; and how the husband of Pratibha Patil, Devisingh Shekhawat and his associates have been keeping justice at bay.

The painful sequence

Committed as they are to education, 'especially of women', as her bio-data continually reminds us, Pratibha Patil and Family have set up a society which runs some schools. Devisingh Shekhawat is the President of the society. He is also the Accused No. 1 in the case that I am about to summarise.

Kisan Dhage joined the school run by the Shekhawats in 1977. He worked as an Assistant Teacher. After prolonged privation and harassment, on 15 November 1998, he took his life by swallowing poison.

The police were called. As they examined the body in the presence of witnesses, they discovered in his pocket a suicide note that Dhage had written in his own hand. They also found a stamp-paper - Dhage had written out on it also the painful account of events that were leading him to take his own life.

He set out how he had been harassed and mentally tortured for long by Devisingh and his associates. His salary was not paid. His pleas for credit from the credit society that is run by the education society that runs the schools were turned down. The forms to enable his son to take the examination for scholarship were blocked... The family was driven to starvation...

Eventually, they dubbed him 'surplus', and transferred him to a far-off school. It turned out that there was no vacancy for a teacher's position in this school. Dhage was shoved around and told to supervise the hostel, such as it was. In despair, Dhage wrote to the Social Welfare Department in Amravati . On 27 January, 1998, the Social Welfare Officer at Amravati , wrote to the school management saying that the transfer was illegal as there was no vacancy for the position of a teacher in the school to which the hapless man had been driven. The Officer, therefore, withheld sanction for the transfer. {Read on Vigil online} {Also on Wikileaks}