Mangaluru, Feb 13, 2018: MLA, Mangaluru City South J R Lobo, Feb 12, Monday assured the agitated residents of Jeppu Compound that efforts would be made to redress their grievance after bringing both parties on a single platform.
The Jeppu Parishioners’ Association has alleged that REV Dr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop, Mangalore Diocese and his associates were plotting to illegally usurp their lands in the Jeppu Compound.
MLA Lobo, who paid a visit to the Jeppu Compound and accepted a memorandum in this regard from the residents, told them that he would not assure anything in particular as the issue involved two private parties and not the government. “However, I will look into what best I could do to resolve the issue,” he said asking them to “have patience”.
Empathising with them, Lobo said he believed the issue should be resolved amicably through dialogue. “I can understand your pain and the sensitivity of the issue. Every problem has a solution. We need to now find a solution to this issue,” he said.
Activist Eric Ozario, who has been on the forefront of the fight for decades, said the victims were ready for dialogue so that they get what was “rightfully theirs”. The members of the Jeppu Parishioners’ Association have been alleging that Bishop has been asserting his right illegally over Survey Numbers 601, 611, 612, 613, 614 and 719 granted to them by the government 130 years ago.
Besides this, the locals have also placed five demands. They are: Withdrawal of the ’Quit Notice’ that the Bishop has allegedly sent to whistle blowers and RTI activists Valerian Texeira and Victor Pais, withdrawal of the Bishop’s authority over the land, consideration of the migrants as the original residents and granting them all rights as per the law, keeping the residents in loop in cases of sale of land or opening up of e compound and compensation from the Bishop for the “pain and harassment” faced.
Recap - Jeppu Compound residents for justice : Mangaluru diocese Bishop Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza clarified that the properties held by the Bishop and diocesan institutions are legal, Jeppu Parishioners’ Association advisor Eric Ozario in a press conference alleged that the Diocese of Mangaluru, represented by Bishop, claims ownership of the government land, occupied by the foreign missionaries to rehabilitate converts a century ago. The residents of 270 houses in the Jeppu Compound, whose forefathers were lower caste Hindus and Dalits and converted to Christianity, have been fighting for their ownership rights of their land and properties for the past several years, he recalled.
Eric charged that though the Diocese has no title deeds to substantiate its claim, it has been exercising absolute authority over the Jeppu Compound by evicting the natives occupants for long, selling plots to outsiders, building commercial complexes and apartments, leasing and renting properties. In an open letter to Bishop, the residents said, “Neither the missionaries nor any subsequent Bishop or the Diocense, paid any money to anyone to acquire these lands. Therefore, neither the Diocese nor the Bishop has any moral right to pocket the gains accruing out of these land and properties.”
The workshop (SJAIW) which was once employing over 500 workers saw a steady decline over the years, with section after section being shut down. The decline and fall of this flourishing Workshop is totally attributed to the lack of capability, business knowledge and honesty of the priests appointed to manage the workshop. As a result, today the Workshop is in a mess, with only a handful of workers keeping the chimneys alive, said the residents and added that the management of the workshop is busy raking in money by leasing out, renting and selling Workshop properties.
Referring to the fancy surnames such as ‘Spinoza,’ ‘Ornello,’ ‘Rebimbus’ and ‘Ozario’ among others, Eric said that those who converted were culturally uprooted. These established historical original residents of Mangaluru have a right to seek proper justice.