He rescued Sultana Begum — a descendant of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar — from a Howrah tea-stall, ensured her financial help and a dignified life. Before this, he raised funds for Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan when the beloved doyen of Shehnai was passing through the last stages of his life. Then he also went on rehabilitating the descendants of 1857 hero Tatya Tope.
Meet journalist Shivnath Jha, who has just reached out to Indian martyr Udham Singh’s neglected grandson Jeet Singh. As everyone is aware, Udham Singh had avenged the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre by assassinating General Michael O’Dwyer, but it’s Jha who traced his grandson working as a labourer.
When Jha met Jeet Singh, he was working as a daily-wager at Sangrur in Punjab. “I was shocked to find him in such a situation. Our president Giani Zail Singh had assured him and his family of help … How he could live in such a miserable condition,” Jha told a function to felicitate Jeet Singh for whom he raised over Rs. 1 million.
A 300+ page pictorial coffee-table book “Forgotten Indian Heroes & Martyrs: Their Neglected Descendants” was also released on the occasion, as part of the series launched by Jha and his wife Neena, a social worker and teacher. The writer couple believes their book tells stories that need to be passed on from one generation to another.
While giving a cheque of Rs.5 lakh, a member of upper house of Indian Parliament Vijay Darda promised to take up the cause of the families of Indian martyrs. “If the government can take care of parliamentarians for life, the families of national heroes certainly deserve immediate attention,” he said.
Well, the job that Jha, a bushy moustached carefree-n-serious journalist, has undertaken is challenging. There must be many-many families whose stories he must collect and share. Contact him if you know someone who must figure in his continuing research to protect musicians and artists and rehabilitate the descendants of martyrs. Let not any selfless sacrifice go unsung. Shivnath Jha lives at SRB-124D, Shipra Reveira, Gyan Khand – III, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) and can be contacted on 09810246536.
“We have come a long way since India became independent on 15th August, 1947. But it is ironical that the present generation of India does not even know how many young people and freedom fighters laid down their lives for the sake of the country. This book is a resounding rebuff to those allegations and accusations and goes on to prove that idealism and those lofty values are still alive in Indian journalism,” says Lok Sabha TV’s Ajay N Jha who has also written the Preface of the “Forgotten Indian Heroes & Martyrs…”
At the same time, seldom before has any newspaper vendor got the privilege of working for the national media until Shivnath Jha surprised everyone with his stories while reporting for Sunday, The Indian Express, The Statesman, The Asian Age, ANI, Dainik Bhaskar, Sahara Time, Aaj Samaj and Tehelka. As a post-graduate from the Patna University, Jha paddled through Patna’s streets for over seven years, beginning 1968, to deliver newspapers from house-to-house before he joined ‘The Indian Nation’ newspaper as a copy-holder. And once he tasted journalism, it did not take long to turn out to be an addiction. Judge his work except the one book he did on Lalu Prasad Yadav, which was totally uncalled for.