Flame still burns in this 90-year-old freedom fighter

Jul 25, 2012, 06:46 IST | Kranti Vibhute

Shankar Adivarekar, a trustee of Chetana College, has been protesting against alleged malpractices by college management for the past 7 years; inaction by concerned officials has prompted him to stage a silent protest

A 90-year-old freedom fighter held a silent protest outside the charity commissioner’s office at Worli yesterday, against the management of Chetana College in Bandra, of which he is a trustee. Refusing to let his age be a handicap, Shankar Adivarekar who has been fighting against alleged malpractices of the college for the last seven years finally decided to stage the demonstration yesterday.

Ceaseless resolve: 90-year-old Shankar Adivarekar, once a freedom fighter, was aided by an NGO in his protest held yesterday against alleged malpractice by Chetana College management. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Adivarekar alleges that the college management has been doing misappropriation of funds along with other offences like cheating, criminal breach of trust, illegal money laundering and making changes in the marks of the students to promote or to fail certain students.

Loss of merit
According to Adivarekar, the college has also been making changes in the merit list of admissions of certain students, and has demanded money in cash from the students selected in the management quota. The college was founded in the years 1970-1971.

Simple demands
On Tuesday afternoon, the veteran freedom fighter was seen protesting silently with the support of NGO Deshbhakti Andolan, which is a non-electoral patriotic initiative.

The NGO staged a peaceful and ‘Gandhian’ dharna at 12.30 pm at the gate of the Charity Commissioner’s office. Adivarekar, who was in a wheelchair, was accompanied by his wife Sushila (89), a paralytic patient, and his daughter Neera Adarkar, an architect.

Adivarekar said, “My only demand is that certain members and employees who have acted against the interest and objective of the Chetana Trust be penalised by the charity commissioner. My petition with the charity commissioner has been pending for the last seven years. I have demanded for an independent administrator for the regular functioning of the college. Every time I have come here, I have been humiliated and sent back. The new charity commissioner met me today, saying that he will study the matter and hold a meeting on August 1.”

Avisha Kulkarni, president of Deshbhakti Andolan, said, “When we learnt about the pain Adivarekar has been taking for so many years despite his illness and old age, we decided to support his cause. We want justice for Adivarekar, who is not just a common man, but also a freedom fighter. It is disheartening to know that the authorities do not want to hear his plea.”

Heart of the matter
S Balakrishnan, general secretary of Deshbhakti Andolan, said, “Once when I asked him what the matter was, his eyes welled up with tears. He claimed that he had all the evidence and documents implicating the management of Chetana Trust, but no one would listen. We have decided to help him get justice.”

An official from the charity commissioner’s office, said, “The commissioner has told Adivarekar that he will study his case and start the hearing from next week.”

The other side
Sushil Chaudhari, secretary of Chetana Trust, said, “We are ready to cooperate with the authorities and the law as we have done before, when Adivarekar had filed a complaint against the trust management.

No malpractice or misappropriation of funds has ever been carried out by the management. I have always been working for the betterment of our college like my father, former education minister Madhukarrao Chaudhari taught me.” 

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