This man's protest just entered third year
For people passing regularly through MG Road – near the Gandhi statue – Sukumaran Menon K is by now a familiar face.
This retired Central government employee has been sitting on a bench outside the park from 8 am to 6 pm every day – for two long years. (He will complete two years on Saturday, March 23).
The 62-year-old self-proclaimed Gandhian hasn’t been doing it for fun. He is on a ‘samadhana upavasa satyagraha’ (silent protest-cum-fast) to reclaim his house and land along Hosur Road, which, he says, was illegally acquired and demolished to pave the way for the Nice road project.
With related cases pending in the High Court and the Supreme Court, nothing positive has come his way, except for a few media reports and consoling words from passersby.
“I won’t quit this final fight for justice. I have decided to resort to the Gandhian way of protest after running around bureaucratic, political and judicial corridors for help,” said Menon who travels all the way from Beretana Agrahara (Electronic City I phase) to MG Road by changing three buses daily.
Menon’s struggle began in 1993 when he purchased one acre and 29 guntas of land along Hosur Road. After overcoming hurdles created by local land grabbers, he built his dream home in 1995, spending his lifetime savings. However, the real shocker came in 2004 when as many as four government notices landed at his doorstep stating that his home and the surrounding land had been acquired for the Nice project.
Menon said he was on the verge of retirement from BEML then and repeated objections filed before the authorities concerned questioning the acquisition went unheeded. “The NICE authorities resorted to all possible ways to evict me and my family from the land. A water channel leading to a nearby lake was diverted to submerge my home. For more than two years, we led a miserable life. Then heaps of mud were spread around my house so that it submerged further during rainy season. On one rainy night, our house was flooded. We had to move out at 3 am. Nobody, including the local police, came to our help,” he said.
Menon’s family now stays at a friend’s house. And with all his money spent on the legal battle, he is solely dependent on his small pension. “In the last 10 years, I have pleaded before all the five chief ministers to look into my case, but nothing has come of it. Through my protest, I want to send a message to the government that a common man, even if alone, can put up a strong fight against injustice. On the positive side, documents provided by me are helping non-governmental organisations and activists to fight against the injustice meted out to people like me in the name of the Nice project. I am hopeful the truth will prevail in the end.”