Road Politics in Times of the Pandemic
Mangaluru: We were shell shocked to receive the news report of the renaming of the disputed Road from Hampankatta through Light House till Ambedkar Circle as Mulky Sundarama Shetty Road. This draconian decision has hurt the sentiments of thousands of passionate admirers of St Aloysius College Educational Institutions. It has been proved beyond doubt that the said road was named “St Aloysius College Road” in 1976 by the Mangalore Municipality under the Presidentship of late Sri Blasius D’Souza.
The Management of the College was successful in bringing the Stay order on 01-07-2017 to the order of the state Government issued on 24-05-2017 stating the renaming of the said road as Mulki Sundararama Shetty Road.
In response, the Vijaya Bank Employees’ Association filed a Writ Appeal against the Stay Order which was turned down by the Honourable High Court of Karnataka.
The judgement delivered on 11 April, 2019, the honourable High Court of Karnataka had directed the civic authorities to call both parties concerned and reach an amicable settlement. St Aloysius College management, in its memorandum submitted on 19 February, 2020, also had made a plea to involve the College in all the future deliberations on the issue.
It is indeed undemocratic and unjust to take a unilateral decision to revoke the order which was rightfully and contested by us, without taking us into confidence which amounts to non – compliance of the directives contained in the order of the high court and our request.
St Aloysius College is a 140 year old institution which has formed thousands of men and women of great eminence. Sri T M A Pai, George Fernandes, present Attorney General of India, K Venugopal, Sri Vinaya Hegde, Justice Santhosh Hegde, Mr K V Kamath and many other prominent alumni have excelled in their fields and have grown to international eminence.The institution which forms these eminent personalities and serving the cause of education for 140 long years cannot be overlooked in preference to one individual. Moreover, Vijaya Bank Workers’ Organization, which has been pursuing the renaming process, may not enjoy any locus standi as the bank is already merged with Bank of Baroda.
We would also like to bring to your kind notice that we were always willing for negotiations and dialogue. We feel a malicious design by the strong and the influential who claim to believe in equality of rights and opportunities. This clandestine and undemocratic decision and the overnight preparation for the inauguration of the said Road have deeply pained us.
It is a very sad thing to see that at a time of great uncertainties and anxieties regarding the pandemic, a sudden and silent decision circumventing the legal procedures would definitely mean there are unseen hands that would create disharmony in the society. The time of the pandemic was an opportunity for reconciliation and a time to demonstrate solidarity among people. This unexpected ruling proves that the pandemic has been utilized to settle the dispute unceremoniously. In addition it also is a scheme to divert public attention from the real issues and concerns posed by the pandemic.
If you look around, we observe a clear pattern in the scheme of things that are happening in the city of Mangaluru which is known for peace and harmony for centuries. Hence we strongly feel that the truth regarding the issue concerned has to be brought to light and the people of Mangaluru have a right to know the truth behind this manner of isolating the parties concerned from the due processes of arriving at amicable settlements of disputes among people. This may be the harbinger of several such undemocratic and unilateral decisions in the future too. We request the government and civic authorities to take a serious note of this incident that has disturbed us and questioned the fundamental understanding of justice and democratic values and reconsider the decision and ensure that due justice is meted out to our cause.
Rev. Fr Melwin Joseph Pinto, SJ
Rector, St Aloysius Institutions