Moved by the plight of fourth generation descendants of Tantya Tope, a frontline leader and martyr of the 1857 Uprising, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today acted as a Samaritan, offering jobs to two daughters of the family in the Railways.
”Pragati and Tripti, the two daughters of Vinayakrao Tope who is the grandson of Tantya Tope, have been given employment in Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) in Kanpur,” Mr Prasad told reporters.
In a sudden turn of fortunes for the family languishing in extreme poverty and squalor, Mr Vijay Darda, a Rajya Sabha member and owner of Lokmat Group of Newspapers, announced financial assistance of Rs five lakh for them.
Company Affairs Minister Premchand Gupta chipped in with an announcement that the house of Tantya Tope at Bithur, 37 km from Kanpur, would be turned into a memorial. A life-size statue of the martyr would also be installed there.
The announcements for providng succour to the family were made at Rail Bhavan, where Vinayakrao Tope, his wife Saraswati Devi, daughters Pragati and Tripti and son Ashutosh were also present. Pragati is a teacher in the Laxmibai School on a salary of Rs 600 a month. Tripti, a graduate, is still unemployed. Mr Prasad also announced that efforts had been made to release the pension of Vinayakrao’s father, which had been suspended since last six-seven years.
Taking action on a plea initiated by “Andolan:Ek Pustak Se”, Mr Prasad said Tantaya Tope played a stellar role during the First War of Independence. ”It is now the duty of the country to repay to the family of those who sacrificed their lives for the country’s freedom, especially in view of the the ongoing celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the 1857 Uprising.
” The Railway Minister also hailed the efforts of the Delhi-based couple Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha, who have launched a nationwide movement “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” two years ago to protect those who brought laurels to the nation.
”We have also decided to provide financial support to Vinayakrao and provide higher education to his children through the sale proceeds of the books — a monograph on Ustad Bismillah Khan, India Calling and another on Lalu Prasad:India’s Miracle,” the Jha couple said.
Vinayakrao Tope now sells grocery items but earns a pittance — not enough for the sustenance of the entire family. He opened a small grocery shop in January last year. Earlier, he was able to get some food from his ‘jajmans’ (masters) by conducting religious ceremonies for them.
Expressing his gratitude to Mr Prasad, he said the bounty for the family was ”unexpected.” ”In the past, many leaders, including former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, visited us but they gave us only assurance. For the first time, something concrete has happened to the family,” he said.
In May 1857, when the political storm was gathering momentum against the British rule, Tantya Tope fought along with Nana Saheb Rani Lakshmibai. He was tried by a military court and despatched to the gallows on April 18, 1859.