IT’S IN MYDNA

Af­ter win­ning a pa­ter­nity case against Ti­wari, Ro­hit Shekhar plans to file a crim­i­nal case against his bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther

India Today - - NA TION - By Priya Sahgal

At ex­actly 4 p. m. on July 27, 86- year- old Narayan Dutt Ti­wari be­came a fa­ther. A DNA test he was forced to un­dergo by the Delhi High Court on a pa­ter­nity suit filed in Septem­ber 2007 by Ro­hit Shekhar, has proven that the for­mer Andhra Pradesh gover­nor is his bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther. “I am not his il­le­git­i­mate child, he is my il­le­git­i­mate fa­ther,” re­acted 33- year- old Shekhar.

From his house in Dehradun, Ti­wari is­sued a state­ment that “I have ev­ery right to live my pri­vate life ac­cord­ing to my rules”. Two years ago, he had told IN­DIA TO­DAY, “At this age, ev­ery­one is my child.”

The saga that cli­maxed in court be­gan as a love story in one of New Delhi’s most pow­er­ful homes. Shekhar’s mother Ujjwala Sharma was in her mid- 20s when she met Ti­wari in 1968 at her fa­ther’s min­is­te­rial bun­ga­low. Ti­wari was then the pres­i­dent of Youth Congress. Her fa­ther, Sher Singh, was a Union min­is­ter.

Ujjwala was preg­nant with her older son Sidhartha when she and her hus­band B. L. Sharma parted ways. She met the flam­boy­ant Ti­wari at her fa­ther’s house. “Dheere- dheere ha­mara parichay badha aur inke pranay nivedan shuru ho gaye ( grad­u­ally we be­came ac­quainted and he be­gan court­ing me),” re­calls Ujjwala, her gaze firmly fo­cused on the car­pet.

Ti­wari asked Ujjwala to bear him a child as he didn’t have any chil­dren. She asked him to get a di­vorce and marry her. “He said that he was 50 and I was 30, so we didn’t have much time and that we should have the child in­stead of wast­ing time for the di­vorce to fi­nalise. I fi­nally agreed be­cause I saw how much he wanted a child,” says Ujjwala, and adds, “It’s not wrong that I trusted him. He was some­one who had been com­ing to our house for six- seven years. What is wrong is that he be­haved so treach­er­ously.”

Shekhar was born in 1979. The birth cer­tifi­cate shows B. L. Sharma as his fa­ther. Ro­hit’s early mem­o­ries of Ti­wari are of an in­dul­gent un­cle who sang him songs from the 1979 hit film Noorie. When he learnt the truth in the early 1990s, he be­came very awk­ward in Ti­wari’s pres­ence.

Around 1993, Ti­wari stopped vis­it­ing them at their home in De­fence Colony, Delhi. When Ujjwala and Shekhar tried to reach him, they were re­buffed. The re­jec­tion had a trau­matic ef­fect on the young boy. He lay suf­fered from de­pres­sion and had a stroke when he was 28. “Ti­wari was mer­ci­less. Even a sim­ple apol­ogy would have calmed me then. I de­cided I wanted my pa­ter­nity to be recog­nised so that my lin­eage is es­tab­lished. It is my right to live with dig­nity,” says Shekhar. The law firm Karan­jawala and Co took on his case pro- bono.

A law grad­u­ate, Ro­hit has moved a pe­ti­tion in the Supreme Court that words like bas­tard, un­chaste and con­cu­bine be ban­ished from court rooms. “I have heard some of these words about my mother. These are dis­crim­i­na­tory words that give cre­dence to prej­u­dice. What about chil­dren born of live- in re­la­tion­ships, sperm do­na­tions or even out of rape? Is it their fault they are called bas­tards?” he asks. He is plan­ning to file a crim­i­nal case against Ti­wari for mis­lead­ing the courts and char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion of his mother. “I also want to know what rights and lim­i­ta­tions I have be­tween my le­git­i­mate and bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther,” says Ro­hit.

He is still search­ing for an­swers. But the an­swer Shekhar needs can­not be given by the court. Why did a man who sang him lul­la­bies in pri­vate refuse to ac­knowl­edge him in pub­lic?

RAJ KU­MAR / www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

( FROM LEFT) UJJWALAAND RO­HIT; TI­WARI

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