By Vijay Darda | 05-07-2016
My dear brothers and sisters of Yavatmal,
The management of Yavatmal Public School immediately suspended the two monsters who committed an extreme atrocity against the minor girls of the school. The matter was reported to the police authorities as soon as all the information became available. Everyone has taken serious cognizance of this incident, and this includes the state government, the police administration, the education department, the chief minister, the guardian minister, the MP and the MLA. I was also active along with the other directors of the school to ensure that such cognizance is taken at all levels. To my mind, this incident is as condemnable and hateful as it is for you all, and I have no doubt that it is equally punishable. Along with you I have also followed up on this crime and I am committed to do so in future as well. For me the unfortunate girls who have suffered this tragedy are just like my daughters. They are like Purva. How can the idea of covering up such a ghastly crime even cross the mind of a father? (If the fact that the persons responsible for this crime are the employees of our institution is expected to also link us with the crime, then you should also note that henceforth it would be difficult for institutions to employ any person.)
You could have your own reasons to be angry with me (and I presume that there are some reasons but I will sort out these with you at leisure at some other time). I have been in public life for a long time. Of these, I have spent 18 years in the Rajya Sabha. Apart from this I have spent more time with the Lokmat newspaper that was established by my father. I am the chairman of the Lokmat group. It is a fact that both politics and the world of newspapers are able to create bonds with people as much as they are able to create differences among them. They can please some, and annoy some. In politics, if you support someone and join a party, then all the other parties and their leaders start looking at you with inimical eyes. (At one time, this kind of bitterness was not there, but now political rivalry has become near poisonous). However, in spite of this, my relations with the leaders and workers of other parties are as harmonious as my ties with the Congress leaders and workers. All these years, I could interact with everyone with the same sense of belonging. They also had the same faith in me. Right from Atalji to Advaniji and Balasaheb Thackerayji and from Sitaram Yechuryji to Mamata Banerjeeji all leaders have treated me as one of their own. Nitish Kumarji and Laluji are like family to me, and I have very personal and warm relations with Pawar Saheb. Congress of course is my party. In spite of all this, opposition is a part of politics. You do not have to create your opponents. They are already a part of it. Thus criticising others when the occasion demands or on some issue is a job of the politicians. It is because of this that you have to put up with their anger and that of their followers.
The newspaper world is also similar to it. If you appreciate someone, then the others are annoyed, and if you criticise someone then he is also upset. If you keep quiet, then people start having doubts about the newspaper. Lokmat has faced these hurdles and still has grown to be the number 1 newspaper on the basis of the people’s support and trust. The people of Yavatmal have a lion’s share in the success of Lokmat newspaper, and this has always been accepted by my colleagues and myself. This support has been very precious for all of us.
All throughout I have made use of my term in the Parliament and the Lokmat newspaper for the service of the people of Yavatmal and the region of Vidarbha. My father and myself started educational institutions in Yavatmal, and these became well-known. I tried to orient government institutions towards public service. My father was instrumental in bringing an airport to Yavatmal so as to give industrial boost to Yavatmal. I took efforts to upgrade the airport and at the same time, consistently took efforts to start an aviation school there so that boys and girls of the region get the opportunity to become pilots and air hostesses. My father took the initiative to start a medical college here. Then then MLA Nilesh Parvekar and I made relentless efforts to upgrade the college. Both of us met the then Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and got him to sanction more than ` 100 crore for the medical college.
Even today, I am taking efforts. Everyone is aware of my efforts to connect Yavatmal with the country’s rail network. I have extended all possible help to the students of this region and am still continuing to do so. I could do all this because I was a member of Parliament and an editor. Besides, I had the blessings of my father’s good deeds. I must also mention that all through these social activities I have never been guided by any motive for personal gain. I must also gratefully accept that the people of Yavatmal have always recognised all my efforts.
In all more than five thousand persons are working for the institutions that have been set up by me. A large number of these are women employees. There are educational institutions, newspapers and other business organisations. These are all working respectfully in their sectors. The scope of our work has extended from Vidarbha into Marathwada, Western Maharashtra, North Maharashtra, Mumbai, South Maharashtra and Goa. At all these places, women employees are at the core of the newspaper activity.
In order to ensure that women get their due and justice along with mywife Smt Jyotsna, I set up a women’s empowerment forum – Sakhi Manch – along with Lokmat. It has a membership of 3 lakhs. But then in the last 40-50 years, there has never been a complaint in our institutions from any lady employee or her family members that she has been harassed or tortured. Such a complaint has never come to me or our senior officers. After having spent such a long time in public life away from such complaints, it is a matter of great distress for me that my family members are being made targets for some people like Amol Kshirsagar and Yash Borundia. It is a big blow for us. It has also upset my personal life.
In politics, especially of the vicious variety there comes a stage when some persons are simply driven by the idea that they want to eject someone out of the social matrix. Then these people go to any extreme. Then they create all kind of ruckus against that person. Considering the fact that my work in the fields of politics, social work and education has always been out in the open, and that too aggressively, it is possible for some people to make me a target of anger. Those families and individuals who spent a long time in politics and public life automatically get to know a lot of people who are not only close to them, but also know them from a distance. My family has been in public service for more than 75 years now. So, we have also had our share of people who have known us from close quarters. Now even if we have not harmed anyone even a wee bit still it is quite possible for them to maintain a distance from us. I am aware of this reality due to my long years in public life. I am also aware of the fact that just like failure, success also demands many sacrifices. We set up Yavatmal Public School. In so far as the incident that has happened recently, I can reassure that it has nothing to do with anyone in my family or myself. But if there are some among you, who feel that there is a link, then I will agree to an appropriate repentance.
I have full faith in your sense of justice…