Undeterred by daughter’s murder, he scripts hope for girls

EARLY September 14th, Umashanker Thakur’s teenage daughter got on her bike and cycled to his coaching institute in the town of Patauri in Bihars Samastipur, about 14 km from her home in Vaishali village, Karnauti.

The Grade 10 student was among 300 others, mostly girls, who saw Thakurs Daughters Development Group as the gateway to a life of hope and success. But the 14-year-old, the only girl of Thakur’s three children, never got where she wanted. She was ambushed and murdered by a group of six men, led by a man who police said had had an argument with her days ago.

Within the next 10 days, all of the accused were arrested and detained. And a week later, Thakur was back at the institute. “I see my daughter in all these girls who cycle 10-15 km from their villages to the trainer center,” says the 45-year-old.

In the last 18 years since Thakur gave up his job as a marine engineer in Mumbai and founded this institute “to raise the educational profile of rural students from Samastipur and Vaishali”, “DDG” has received an impressive award: 30 government agencies, four IIT- Seats, 10 NIT slots, three NEET successes, over 100 army jobs, 70 police positions and around 40 Group D jobs on the railways.

“The list of successful students includes more than 30 girls. We help them all to prepare for the performance exams or just to take their school exams from grades 9-12, ”says Thakur. “We also talk to the students about topics such as feticide and the dowry system and try to raise their awareness.”

The center charges Rs 300 per month for six hours of coaching daily and employs five additional teachers.

“This institute filled me with so much self-confidence,” says Kriti Kumari, a farmer’s daughter who is aiming for a B.ED degree. “I’ve been coming here for a year. I am now confident that I can express myself anywhere, ”says Neha Kumari, 12th grade student and daughter of an employee of a private company.

In 2002, Thakur completed his marine engineering course at TS Chanakya and got a position in an MNC. “But I felt like I was going back home to be with my own people. I quit the job, came back and started this institute in 2003, ”he says.

The result is evident – in the words and deeds of his students.

“I used to cycle 12 km every day from my village Jalalpur in Samastipur to the institute. My bike was stolen, but I made sure to continue taking pillion classes on my friend’s bike. Uma’s innovative teaching style aroused curiosity and instilled a lot of trust in us. I made it to IIT-Kharagpur in 2015, ”says Dhananjay Kumar.

“When I look back, I feel very grateful to the teacher who left the rural students a comfortable life. Nobody in my family could imagine that I would get into an IIT. My father still runs a grocery store at home, ”says Kumar, who is now a software engineer in Bengaluru.

Then there is Ravi Roshan, one of Thakur’s early students who has now joined him as a faculty member at the center.

Rahul Kumar, who joined the National Defense Academy in 2013 and is now a lieutenant in the navy in Visakhapatnam, says, “Uma’s teaching style was very vivid and impressive. He’s an all-rounder teaching physics, chemistry, history, and geography. I owe what I am today to teachers like Uma, sir. “

Yet all acknowledge that Thakur is now facing the greatest challenge of his life.

Maneesh, Superintendent of Police, Vaishali, said: “We have arrested six people in connection with the murder of Umshankar Thakur’s teenage daughter. The main defendant with criminal predecessors had quarreled with the girl after she accidentally hit him with her bicycle. He had followed their movements on this route since that episode. “

“Despite this tragedy, Thakur’s commitment to education is unwavering. I was in his institute. He has done society a great service. We need several people like him who can nurture rural talent, ”says Anand Kumar, the math teacher behind Bihar’s popular Super 30 coaching program.

At Patauri, 20-year-old Julie Kumari says that DDG is not just about studying and social issues. “We also hold beauty contests, painting and cooking contests. That’s something about this center that attracts students from distant villages, ”she says.

Thakur looks at her with a faint smile and says, “My daughter has not gone anywhere. It is here in every Julie. “


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