State and city rise to support Walmiki
Things seem to be finally looking up for hockey champ Yuvraj Walmiki's family. After MiD DAY reported yesterday on the abject poverty afflicting the kin of hockey's latest hero, ('Need Rs 1,000 loan to cook biryani for our hero son'), the state government has come forward with much-needed aid for the family.
Riding high: Yuvraj Walmiki receives a hero's welcome at the airport
after his return yesterday by family and friends. The crowd also chants
slogans in his praise. (Bottom right) Walmiki and his family can now bid
their troubles goodbye. pics/bipin kokate
Chief Minister Prithivraj Chavan announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh and a class I officer's job to the 21-year-old player. Senior officials attached to the Chief Minister's office confirmed with MiDDAY that Chavan had reached the decision during the cabinet briefing session yesterday.
The CM's officer however denied reports that Chavan had also decided to gift a flat to Walmiki, whose family presently lives in a cramped 16x16 sq ft shanty on Marine Lines.
Walmiki's flight from Delhi touched down last morning at the Mumbai airport, where he received a warm welcome. Hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay was there to welcome Walmiki, along with his parents. They were then driven to Matoshree, where the family met Shiv Sena leaders Balasaheb, Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray.
When this correspondent broke the news of the CM's contribution to an emotional Walmiki, he said, "I am thankful to everybody who stood by me in trying times. I would also like to thank the media for all their support."
Mother Meena, who was overwhelmed with all the media attention that Walmiki received, said, "I am very happy to learn about the Chief Minister's announcement. I will first take Yuvraj to Siddhivinayak temple. Our first priority is to look for a better house." A large-hearted police inspector was so moved after he read the report on MiD DAY yesterday that he gifted the family large quantities of biryani from a popular restaurant in the city.
The officer, who requested anonymity, said, "I was touched by the story, I was a football player during my college days, and also weathered financial problems. The least I can do for this talented boy is buy five packets of biryani for him and his family." Walmiki's coach Pillay said, "I am thankful to MiD DAY for the support. It is also a noble gesture on the part of state government to make such an announcement."
Help pours in
The phones kept ringing at our offices since morning, with callers expressing their solidarity with Walmiki by making voluntary contributions, for amounts ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000.
>> Sunil Shinde, chairman, BEST committee, visited Walmiki's house and asked his parents to fill out a requisition form for electric supply, which would be provided to the family free of cost, by the body.
>> MLA Annie Shekar and Corporator Vinod Shekar wrote to the CM, requesting him to allot a flat to Walmiki, as well as offer him a government job. They also wrote to Mayor Shradhha Jadhav, asking him to host a civic reception and arrange for water and power supply to Walmiki's shanty.
>> Mayor Shraddha Jadhav wrote to the CM and his deputy, asking them to make arrangements for the allotment of a flat to Walmiki.
>> Kanderp Khandwala, president, Rotary Club of Bombay Airport, sent a message, declaring that Walmiki would be conferred the Vocational Excellence Award, on October 10, at a ceremony in Juhu.
>> Kailash Parekh, an employee of Parekh Marine agencies (P) Ltd, offered to arrange for dinner for Walmiki and his family, in any restaurant of their choice.
>> Leena Mogre, a fitness trainer in Bandra, offered Walmiki free membership to her gym.
>> Punit M from Delhi offered Rs 10,000, and posted the link to the report on his Facebook page, to garner more support.
>> Dinesh Shetty offered lunch, comprising kabab, biryani and kheer (sweet), at his Vasai joint for the young champ.
>> Sushand from Muscat offered a sum of Rs 10,000 to Walmiki.
>> Prof A Thakker and Dr Rama Thakker from Mulund offered to donate Rs 5,000
>> Harshad Shah from Fort offered a sum of Rs 1,000.
>> Huma Shaikh from Bandra offered to sponsor a lunch for Walmiki at any of his favourite restaurants in the city.
>> M Khambata from Colaba offered a few thousand rupees as well as biryani.
>> Brian Phillips from Vile Parle offered Rs 1,000.
(The willing donors were given Meena Walmiki's contact number, so they could directly assist the family)