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Penniless but optimistic

It began by being cruel to freedom fighter Veer Savarkar?s grandson Prafulla Chiplunkar, who was found begging on the streets of Pune.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2007 03:52 IST

Destiny has a strange way of writing scripts. It began by being cruel to freedom fighter Veer Savarkar’s grandson Prafulla Chiplunkar, who was found begging on the streets of Pune, but later decided the script could do with some cheer.

A woman, who worked as a maid in Chiplunkar's house decades ago, has offered to look after him. "Now that he has fallen on bad times, I am ready to look after him like his daughter would have. By God’s grace, we have everything going for us now," the woman said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Chiplunkar is the son of Vinayak Savarkar’s daughter Prabhat. But the lineage isn’t his only claim to fame. After passing out from IIT-Delhi in 1971, the chemical engineer worked for a private firm in Madhya Pradesh and went to Thailand on an assignment. There he met Sureeporn and married her.  While he and Sureeporn returned to India, his son stayed on in Thailand.

In 1985, an accident brought his world crashing down — the treatment was expensive and went on long enough to cripple him financially and physically. Then in 2002, he suffered another loss: his wife and son died in a car crash.

A nervous breakdown meant that he spent hours outside Pune’s Sarasbag Ganpati temple, reading newspapers and magazines. Beggars and lepers kept him company and the few coins that passersby dropped took care of his daily tea and pulav.

It was on one such day that some social workers saw a beggar with English newspapers and magazines strewn near him.

Certain that he was not an ordinary beggar, they informed local media persons including veteran journalist Moreshwar Joshi.

"I verified his antecedents and found out that he was Veer Savarkar’s grandson," Joshi said.

About his famous grandfather, an emotional Chiplunkar told HT: “Tatya (Savarkar) used to scold me, beat me up and also tell the stories of Abhinav Bharat.” Savarkar had formed Abhinav Bharat, a revolutionary organisation, to fight against the British regime.