He has been waging a one-man battle for the past 740 days
He has been sitting on a bench outside the Mahatma Gandhi Park in Bangalore on M.G. Road, with just an umbrella to shield himself from the natural elements, for the past two years.
Protesting against the “illegal acquisition of his land”, Sukumaran Menon K. (62), a retired employee of Bharat Earth Movers Ltd., has been waging a one-man battle against the government.
For the past 740 days, he has been on “Samadhana Upavasa Satyagraha” (peaceful protest, without any food or water) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This, after his nine-year legal battle against the government yielded no result.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Menon, a native of Thrissur district in Kerala, said that he came to Bangalore in 1969 and bought 1.7 acres of land at Konappana Agrahara, near Electronic City, in 1993.
All his savings
He invested all his savings of over 42 years and even constructed a house there in 1995. “Even six years after I constructed my house, electricity supply was not given, though it was sanctioned,” he said. Just when the family was settling down, the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) marked his property for acquisition for the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project being executed by Nandi Infrastructure Company Enterprises (NICE). “Though the acquisition process began in 1996, we did not get any notice till 2004,” he said.
He said that his family has been through a lot of hardship over the years. The local land sharks who were eying the land even flooded his house by diverting a water channel that drained into a nearby lake. “In 2009, we were forced to move out in the dead of the night, as our house was flooded with knee-deep water,” he recollected.
Unfazed, Mr. Menon filed a case against the anti-social elements and took up a legal battle challenging the acquisition of his land for the BMIC project.
“I have spent all my savings in trying to protect what is mine. My family is now living in a rented house near our house,” he lamented.
With cases regarding the land and its acquisition pending in both the High Court of Karnataka and the Supreme Court, he has even written several times to several politicians, including the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Union Minister for Defence A.K. Antony, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the former Kerala Minister V.M. Sudheeran.
He said that though NICE entrusted compensation for land losers with the court, he was not ready to accept it. “What they are offering is a pittance compared to the actual cost. I do not want any compensation; I only want my land back,” he said.
Mr. Menon is determined to continue with his protest, much to the chagrin of his physician and two sons, who are both pursuing Ph.D.
His sole support has been his wife, who is encouraging him to continue his struggle and secure their children’s future.