NRI accused of misusing Thimmakka’s name

: Ramanagaram district police have launched a probe into allegations made by renowned environmentalist Saalumarada Thimmakka that a United States-based environmental organisation is misusing her name.

Ms. Thimmakka had filed a private complaint before the Ramanagaram Judicial Magistrate First Class (JFMC) court on May 9 against a non-resident Indian, Ritu Primlani, for running the organisation named after her for at least 14 years without her consent or knowledge.

The district police are to submit their report in a month’s time as directed by the court, said a senior official.

Umesh, Ms. Thimmakka’s adopted son, said they were alerted by well-wishers that a non-governmental organisation (NGO) — Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education — was incorporated in 1998 and was active till 2012 in California. “They have misused her name and made money. This is cheating,” he alleged.

S. Sumati, Ms. Thimmakka’s counsel told The Hindu that the NGO was actively collecting donations and availing grants in the period 1998 to 2012. She also added that the NGO was into certifying ethnic green restaurants in the South Bay Area and had steady revenues reflected in their tax forms filed with local authorities.

She said they had produced before the court the tax returns that the organisation had filed from 2001 to 2012, which showed grants and donations availed by the NGO. In fact, Ms. Primlani had also visited Ms. Thimmakka in 2011. Photographs show Ms. Primlani gifting a saree to Thimmakka. Now, Ms. Thimmakka alleges that the lady gifted the saree and took her thumb impression on a few blank sheets.

“I live on a meagre old age pension of Rs. 400 a month and find it difficult to even fund my medical expenses. What if there is a misuse and my name is tarnished?” Ms. Thimmakka said.