Zulfiqar's loss is Kanwarpal's gain

  • Monica Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 14, 2015 15:06 IST
Kanwarpal, complaintant in the Zulfiqar Khan case, at his office in Sector 25, Chandigarh. (HT Photo)

Whistleblower Kanwarpal, 35, who once used to be a close associate of Zulfiqar Khan, nailed him with complete evidence of pictures and statements of children alleging sexual exploitation. It was rivalry of money and recognition that Kanwarpal and Zulfiqar ended up their association of the last two decades. But Kanwarpal says, he left Zulfiqar as he had seen him sexually exploiting a child.

Kanwarpal, hailing from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh was brought up in Chandigarh. His father, a sweeper at a city hotel, and mother a creche worker died when he was a teenager.
Brought up in the jhuggis at Sector 25, Kanwarpal said, “I never knew what an NGO meant, till I met Zulfiqar. But since childhood, me and my friends (a group of about nine) always wanted to do something different for the society. We would clean up our area and help the children in studies.”

Kanwarpal worked as a rickshawpuller, labourer and even sold fruits. Now, Kanwarpal heads an NGO Education first, which he constituted in 2013, after parting ways with Zulfiqar.
Kanwarpal, who was once introduced to the world of social service by his only inspiration Zulfiqar Khan, has floated an NGO just on the lines of Theatre Age. Zulfiqar, had also helped Kanwarpal get married to a girl who was associated with Theatre Age.

Kanwarpal is also into collecting newspapers, waste material, books and furniture in the form of donations from city residents. He runs the NGO from two rented rooms at a small house in Sector 25. He teaches children and also has small vans to collect waste newspapers for making creative things out of it.

Kanwarpal was just 12, when he first came across Zulfiqar, who was 15 years elder to him. Talking about good old days in 1991, Kanwarpal said, “Zulfiqar used to play with us every evening and after a month, asked us if we watched TV and like to act in nukkad nataks.”
Kanwarpal said the entire idea sounded interesting and nine of them started acting in street plays. “I can never forget the first time we saw our picture in the newspapers. We were so elated and displayed our picture like crazy all over the colony. That was our first experience with fame.”

“Finally, we got the NGO registered in 1992 and gave small letters along with application that we will never leave Zulfiqar and continue working with him till we die,” he added. “After displaying the nataks, we also used to seek donation sitting in open by spreading a sheet on the floor,” he said.

Gradually, we improved from street plays to stage plays. We were majorly into theatre and finally got a room at Sector 24 government school in 2002 and added up to eight rooms till 2013. Among the old associates, I was the only one who continued till 2013 and others had left Zulfiqar one by one. Only one woman out of the old associates is still with Zulfiqar.
Kanwarpal used to manage students at the school and was responsible for getting the newspapers donated by city residents. All was going on as usual and on one fine night in 2013, I went to ask for some money from Zulfiqar at his Sector 25 house. As I went up the stairs and opened the room that was not locked from inside, I saw him doing unnatural sex with a child. I immediately rushed down and under shock I did not talk to Zulfiqar for about a week. Before quitting, I questioned Zulfiqar about the same. He replied: “Your work is to collect scrap and keep doing it without questioning me.”

“I stopped working for him and gathered like-minded people and floated my own NGO in 2013 to keep communicating with people in the society. I wanted to bring out the truth of this man,” he added.

“Mein apne baap ka bhi nahin agar sachai ke liye khada hona pade. I know my life is under threat as Zulfiqar, a day before his arrest, had thrashed me at my home,” said Kanwarpal.
Kanwarpal says his house has been running with the income of his wife who has been working in a private school for the last 10 years.

“I know, I can be killed anytime for exposing a man with so many links like Zulfiqar. I collected evidence and then approached the police after two years,” he said.

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