The issue has led to filing of three criminal cases.

Three members of a family stand over a heap of rubble, where, in between strewn bricks and shattered beams lay glimpses of their possessions.

John Baptist Louis (57), a daily wage earner in the city, says around 3.30 p.m. on Thursday, nearly 40 people, including officials of the St. Aloysius College nearby, ran an earthmover through the property, that was home for decades.

“In a matter of half an hour, it was all over. We had no notice. Men took me by the throat and dragged me out,” he said. Following Thursday’s demolition, the family has lodged a complaint with the Mangalore North Police Station. Both Mr. Louis and the College have been maintaining that he had been staying at the tiled-roof house on a 38 cent land as a caretaker for the original owner Alice Lydia D’Souza, after whose death in 1990, the property was bequeathed to St. Aloyisus College on the condition that her nephew Errol Gonsalves could live there until his death. With the death of Mr. Gonsalves in July 2013 the college authorities have laid claim to the property describing his occupation as illegal.

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Cyril D’Mello, Manager, Property and Constructions of St. Aloysius College, said the house was “dilapidated and risked lives. The College administration wants to develop this property for the good of students, it demolished the dilapidated construction existing in the said property, the College being the legal owners,” he said in a release.

Reiterating their claim on the property, Mr. D’Mello said the Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) in its order on January 25 rejected Mr. Louis’ resident letter, and a month later annulled his application questioning the property's ownership held by the College.

The issue has led to filing of three criminal cases – one for illegal residence against the Louis family, and a case and counter-case after a scuffle between the St. Aloysius Management and members of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) who were protesting against the management’s alleged harassment of the family.

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