IT’S IN MYDNA
After winning a paternity case against Tiwari, Rohit Shekhar plans to file a criminal case against his biological father
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?
( FROM LEFT) UJJWALAAND ROHIT; TIWARI