DELIGHTFUL OPPORTUNITY The 77th running of the Jamaica Oaks at Caymanas Park on Saturday will have a new sponsor in Caribbean Choice. Plans for the mile and quarter classic for native-bred three-year-old fillies were outlined by representatives of Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) and Caribbean Choice a major brand with Grace Foods franchise at yesterday’s launch on the front lawns of Caymanas Park. Denzil Miller Jr, CTL’s racing secretary, said the race will offer a total purse of $3 million, inclusive of $1 million donated by the sponsor. The race will as usual be run in honour of Hilma Veira, former general manager of the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) and ‘Hall of Fame’ inductee. “After the season’s first classic on April 9, the Post to Post 1000 Guineas, it is back to the drawing board for some and high hopes for others,” said Miller. “The outstanding filly and Triple Crown contender NUCLEAR AFFAIR, who romped the 1000 Guineas for trainer Gary Subratie and owner Michros, continues to train well after her fast time win of 1:39.2 for a mile and although Subratie has never won the Oaks, he certainly has the horse to accomplish the feat this time around,” said Miller. He also named the Guineas runner-up A THOUSAND STARS from the stables of 15-time champion Wayne DaCosta, Philip Feanny’s SORRENTINO’S STAR, GOLDEN GLORY from the Subratie stable and Fitzroy Glispie’s BIRD CATCHER as contenders. David Reid, brand manager of Caribbean Choice, said the sponsorship was “a delightful opportunity to venture into your world of horse racing and we are excited to participate in the coming out party”. Reid was quick to add that the Ladies Day programme will feature a hat parade a staple on Oaks Day over the years as well as a number of giveaways to patrons, while Spragga Benz will provide the musical entertainment for racing fans.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Dan Uetrecht, Warren Co.Things are going really well. The crop looks really good. I think we are one inch of rain away from having a perfect spring. We are a little dry and if we could just get a good soaker it would be perfect. Hopefully we’ll get it. We are supposed to heat up today. The weather has been really nice with some 70- and 80-degree days with low humidity. Now we’re supposed to get hot and humid and that should kick up some thunderstorms.For emergence it has been perfect. We didn’t have any beating rains. Everyone down this way said that this year was as good for getting the crop out of the ground without any issues as they have ever seen. The crop looks healthy.Around Wilmington and up towards Court House they have been getting some rains and things are really going. We could use some rain but we are still doing well.I think we’ll be running wheat in two or three weeks. We put fungicide down to protect it. I did find a little head scab in our wheat but not much. I think it will be a good crop but not a great crop. Two months ago I said there was no way we’d be running wheat in June. Now I think we will be. We hope to get second cutting hay done before we start baling straw.I plant about 50 acres of cover crops after wheat and the rest of the wheat acres will go to double-crop beans. The last couple years, double-crop beans have been phenomenal down here. We need late rains and a late frost for a good double-crop situation.This corn has gotten so big. I went out today and the corn is pushing waist high. We got done sidedressing last week and we just finished post- spraying all of our soybeans. We had to come back on all of our beans because we had problems with grass. We got a good burndown on the broadleaves.The markets have taken a little hit and this is the timeframe where you can get one more spike up or it could be on the downward spiral and it will be interesting to see what prices do in the next couple weeks.For the rest of this week’s reports, click here.
Students at the Yavatmal primary school: Sordid episodeThe packed central hall of Bombay’s towering Vidhan Sabha building, usually the scene of deafening exchanges between ruling party and opposition legislators, was this time reduced to a stunned silence.Replying to an adjournment motion by the Opposition, Maharashtra’s Minister of State for Home,Students at the Yavatmal primary school: Sordid episodeThe packed central hall of Bombay’s towering Vidhan Sabha building, usually the scene of deafening exchanges between ruling party and opposition legislators, was this time reduced to a stunned silence.Replying to an adjournment motion by the Opposition, Maharashtra’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, Vilas Deshmukh, admitted before a shocked house on March 30 that the superintendent and the cook of a government-run residential primary school for Adivasi children in the state’s backward Yavatmal district stood accused of raping 14 young girls in their charge.Informing the Assembly that the two accused had only four days before been arrested and formally charged, Deshmukh stated that preliminary enquiries with the girls – mere children between the ages of six and 10 – had confirmed reports by a teacher at the ashramshala that they had been repeatedly assaulted for some months.Widespread Concern: The reaction, both from treasury benches and the Opposition, was a shocked outcry. There were calls for an investigation of the 313 ashramshalas which offer Maharashtra adivasis free residential schooling. Since their inception a decade ago, ashramshalas have become popular with the backward community and today the tiny boarding schools have over 40,000 students in Maharashtra’s tribal belts.Less than a week later the news broke of yet another molestation charge being made by ashramshala students. Alleging that the assistant teacher who accompanied them to a sports match with a rival school “tried doing things” on the bus while returning, two 14-year-olds from the Nanza village ashramshala, just 120 km from Harshi village where the earlier charges originated, complained to Yavatmal’s tribal welfare officer of maltreatment and attempted rape.advertisementSaid V.N. Gajibe, tribal welfare officer for Yavatmal and Buldhana districts, who filed both complaints with the local police: “The ashramshala scheme has been very successful so far, since even the poorest Adivasi parents are now encouraged to send their children to these schools, and girls who were not earlier getting any education at all are now increasingly enrolled. But if this kind of abuse takes place it will set back the entire programme and lead to withdrawal of children.”Swift Action: Last fortnight, the Government moved rapidly to stem the rot. N.S. Umbharkar, assistant teacher at the Nanza ashramshala, was arrested and formally charged under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, and in Harshi the police started by arresting Superintendent Govind Mahakale and Maruti Sitaram Rajne, the cook. A week later, after enquiries and intensive questioning of the schoolgirls revealed that Charandas Bhadikar, the original informant who had alerted Gajibe to the abuse, was equally involved in its perpetration, Yavatmal’s Pusad taluk police promptly picked him up and had him remanded to their custody for further questioning.Moving rapidly to sew up the matter and avert widespread panic, Maharashtra’s Additional Inspector-General of Police (CID), Ramakant Kulkarni, dashed to Harshi to personally assess the situation.Further Revelations: In Yavatmal district the sordid affair grew murkier as police investigations revealed a complicated web of child abuse and adult intrigue. News of the original allegations against Mahakale and Rajne first broke when their colleague Bhadikar informed a group of Harshi villagers on March 9 that they had continually abused their young wards.Though swift village justice followed, a Pusad taluka advocate and journalist A. Aparwo Maind, who edits a weekly paper called the Chawdi Varta, informed the police circle inspector about the allegations. No formal complaint was registered for over a week.Meanwhile Bhadikar, who had first instigated the villagers against the ashramshala superintendent and cook, made a similar complaint to Gajibe in Yavatmal, and the tribal welfare officer promptly visited Harshi to verify the charges.”At that time all 14 of the girls interviewed – two were not present – confirmed what Bhadikar had told me,” said Gajibe, “so I went ahead and filed a police complaint against the two.”Under the more exacting interrogation of the police, however, the little girls broke down and stated that Bhadikar himself had constantly molested them since the past Diwali and had finally cajoled them to condemn the other two.Said Vasudev Potdar, deputy superintendent of police at Yavatmal: “Investigations are going on, so at this stage all we can say is that the girls now state that even Bhadikar used to molest them; so we have arrested him also. But the case has become considerably more complicated, since according to the medical examination none of the 16 girls has actually been raped. The doctor has stated that their hymens are intact and there are no visible signs of rape.”advertisementDepravity: But this is small consolation for the girls themselves. Subjected daily to harrowing questioning sessions for over a fortnight, the Harshi ashramshala’s 16 girl students’ were last fortnight distraught, with fear and worry about a crime which lay almost outside’ their comprehension.Rudely jerked out of their childhoods into an incomprehensible world of adult perversion and depravity, the group huddled in their miserable temporary school room, bursting into tears each time a stranger came in. Chandrakala, a pretty eight-year-old along with Ganga, an alleged favourite of Bhadikar’s, haltingly explained that the assistant teacher-frequently called his charges to his rooms at night to perform small chores for him, often seizing the opportunity to strip them off their clothes and molest them.”He used to call me to his chulha (kitchen) to do some work and then take off all my clothes and his own,” said the young girl unselfconsciously, “and then he used to do things.” Added Ganga: “Bhadikar used to call me at night and he used to touch me down there.”Shobha, barely six and certainly unaware of the reasons for the furore around her, nevertheless adds to the astonishing charges of depravity. “Once he took me also to his room,” she says, almost by rote, clamming up thereafter and refusing to elaborate on what was done to her. The others, harassed from days of questioning by the police, burst into tears each time they are asked about the incidents.Cruel Neglect: The testimony of the ashramshala students notwithstanding, little was actually known last fortnight about the extent of molestation, how long it had gone on, or the exact involvement of each of the accused. But the Harshi case raised several questions.No women teachers or attendants were provided in the Harshi ashramshala even though its 16 girls and 52 boys are all between the ages of six and 10. The teacher’s control over his students is absolute, and statements by the young Adivasi girls make it clear that they are frequently made to perform menial tasks and housework for the ashramshala staff.Involvement of the villagers in the children’s welfare is almost nonexistent, possibly because it is a school for tribals in a village dominated by non-tribals. Political workers in the Pusad-Harshi area insist that even the funds allotted for the upkeep of children are often diverted from some ashramshalas, and as a result their running has become a high-stakes business handed out as patronage by the ruling party.R. H. Atre, BJP worker from Pusad, points out that only last fortnight the sanction of an ashramshala for Pedhi village in Yavatmal’s Mahagaon taluk was abruptly cancelled and handed over from Kuddus Mirza, who was originally to have run it, to Manoharrao Naik, brother of Maharashtra Education Minister Sudhakar Naik.Naik, who already administers the Parvatibaji Charitable Trust in Pusad, will set up the ashramshala at Saathghari, a village next to Pedhi. “Even the running of something as desirable as ashramshalas has become a prestigious thing to be handed out to favoured persons,” said Atre. “The Government grant of Rs 105 per student per month is an incentive for persons to take up the running of these schools.”advertisementBut Patil’s Government last fortnight appeared determined to put the ashramshala scheme right; it pulled out all the stops to speedily solve the Harshi and Nanza cases and restore confidence in the institutions. A senior official in the Tribal Welfare Ministry admitted that “this scheme shows more potential for tribal uplift through education than perhaps all other welfare schemes put together”. The official added that the Government was trying to set things right. “I would be the first to admit that it is at present far from perfect,” he said, “but ashramshalas are the one way of encouraging the desperately poor to educate their children, and the success so far shows that it can easily be extended.”