By Prof. Narendra Nayak
Mangaluru, Feb 16, 2017: The house in this picture looks like a house of cards or a set of match boxes stacked over each other! Welcome to the empire of senior citizen Vittal Shenoy and his wife Gayathri Shenoy situated near Mahamaya Temple, Car street, Mangalore
The lower most of the stack is the tea shop run by his son in law, while seventy five year old Shenoy and his wife occupy the rest of the building. Why it is so small is the story of his struggle shows how a senior citizen is treated and has to struggle for justice. Even after winning his case in the court has to face threats from underground characters!
Sheno y had purchased a tiny bit of land measuring around 450 sq feet with a mud house way back in 1989 from the owners for a consideration of Rs.59,000 and had opened a small shop too. That time itself he had been facing harassment from the owners of the plot behind the structure who wanted to see him out. But nothing serious had happened till 2002 when he had gone away to be with his son at Bangalore. The compound wall was demolished because Shivanand Bhat and Vittal Bhat who had started the construction of a flat called Mahamaya Sannidhi behind his house.
He wanted to rebuild the compound wall and for that he had to initiate a legal process which took a decades for disposal but was decided in his favor. But, when the opposite party went on appeal it took several years for the decision which was finally in favor of Shenoy in 2016 who wanted to rebuild the wall.
In the mean while from 2009 -12 a road widening program was initiated and to save the property of temple on the opposite side of road half the small area of the plot belonging him was taken over and the building was extended upwards by the City corporation at public expense which gave it the present stacked cubes look!
Despite of the court orders the police refused protection to Shenoy to rebuild the wall. So, finally he built the wall after a gap of nearly a year because of the intervention of the local MLA Sri J.R.Lobo who instructed the police to provide him protection. So, the wall was finally built! Here is the picture:
But if you think Shenoy’s troubles are over you are wrong! The opposite parties in the case threatened him with dire consequences! He was warned that on the way to buy milk which he does early morning, a vehicle could crash into him and bump him off. A few days ago a mean looking underground toughie came in the evening and threatened him that a contract has been given to one Vijay to finish him off. He was also threatened by an engineer of Mangalore city corporation to stop the work. When this matter was verified from him the engineer said that the objection was not to the compound wall but to the structure which he as putting up within its limits. But, when he was asked as to whether he would put his contention in writing he said yes but Shenoy is yet to receive it! Well the aged couple who live in fear of their lives have complained to the Bunder police station about it and are hoping for action from their end. Will they get justice? Will they get protection? With the anxiety writ large on their faces, the couple looks out from the gate of the home they built for their peaceful retired life!
Is our society so callous as to be blind to the troubles a senior citizen couple at the fag end of their lives? Is it a law of jungle or is there any respect for laws of the land are the question that the society has to answer!