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From Tihar, With a Mission
|by R C Ganjoo|
He started on the journey all alone. Alone he resolved to reach his goal, but as he went along, people came - man after man, and his lonely march became a caravan. And it is a reality that is shown by Shahabuddin Ghauri. Till yesterday he was being kept at bay by his close friends and relatives, for he had been implicated in a hawala case and was booked under TADA. Today Shahabuddin Ghauri is a household name in his native town Tanda in district Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.
Recently he has won the post of Chairman in Municipal Board Tanda (Nagar Palika Parishid) in direct election. He got 6701 votes as an independent candidate against his nearest rival Haji Sarfaraz Ahmed (Congress) who stuck at 4856.
Shahabuddin was never interested in contesting elections. But circumstances forced him to be. “I had no intention to fight elections. After my release from the Tihar jail in 1998, I had decided to stay back in my village and serve the people. Here I noticed the suffering of innocent villagers at the hands of a gas agency of the Indian Oil Corporation. And I decided to launch a campaign against corruption”, he said.
While in the Tihar jail, Shahabuddin Ghauri continued his struggle against the violation of human rights in a new order. As an M. Phil student of Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1989, Shahabuddin succeeded in encouraging his inmate students to fill IGNOU admission forms so that they could appear in examinations.
Bedi admired his unique achievements inside the jail and awarded Shahabuddin the “Original Mind Award 2004” on behalf of the India Vision Foundation. Superintendent Tihar jail Tarsem Kumar described Shahabuddin as “a model prisoner who proved himself as an asset to the jail in its programme of reformation of prisoners through education”.
With his rigorous campaign, he exposed a nexus of certain local politicians and administration officials. Shahabuddin, with the support of some good souls, got a social organisation registered “Janhit Sewa Samiti.” With moral support from Dr Kiran Bedi, former IG Prison (Tihar), he founded Mercy Foundation Trust, a charitable hospital last year. He said “even after 63 years of independence, Tanda Tehsil with a population of 4.5 lakh is lagging in education and health care.”
A survey by the Mercy Foundation shows that during the last five years 498 women died in labour pain in the area and 700 infant babies died due to shortage of medical aid. Bedi is the chief patron of Mercy Foundation Trust and Begum Yaman Khan, a noted sufi and ghazal singer and daughter of late Ustad Vilayat Khan a renowned sitarist, is its patron. For his dream project of 200-bed hospital for mother and child, Padam Bushan awardee Dr L K Gandhi, Sheel Kumar Shukla, director of Institute of Dental Science and Technology, Meerut, and Vijay Agre, managing director of Vijay Construction Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, came forward to help.
In Tanda, Shahabuddin has created awareness against corruption. This has unnerved the mafia and certain political leaders. However, he has not wavered from serving the people. National Panthers Party chairman Prof Bhim Singh appreciates his work very much. On his victory in the recent election Bedi sent him the following message : “Now serve the people as much as you can. And take all along. Remain inclusive and honest. Take no favour from any one. Live most honestly, within means.”
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