Udupi: Ravindranath Shanbhag, president of the Human Rights Protection Foundation (HRPF), said on Tuesday that he would not accept the Rajyotsava Award as a mark of protest against the “lackadaisical implementation” of the Maintenance and Protection of Senior Citizens Act in the State.
“I understand that the Rajya Rajyotsava Award is given to achievers in literature, sports and other fields. I have been identified by the government in the field of social service and I am grateful for it.
Meanwhile, while my service has not reached sufficient aggrieved people, while people I have be fighting for still await justice, while hundreds of senior citizens are at my door steps with tears in their eyes, to what avail would it be to receive such an award? The concerned higher officials and ministers turn a blind eye to my letters regarding this matter and a deaf year to their cries. There are several people awaiting justice even with Court judgment in their hands. Eight senior citizens have already left this world in despair without justice. Is it not an insult to these deprived souls if I accept such an award?
It is not important as to how much of social service I have done. What is important is how many of them have got justice. Senior citizens from all over the state are approaching me. They hold my hand and pray for help with tears in their eyes. The Government passed the law for the protection of senior citizens and it has gone down the drain, and for whose sake and what purpose do I accept the award?
More than 300 Anganwady teachers of Kadur and Birur of Chikmagalur district are ensnared in an unfortunate situation for no fault of theirs, wherein they have lost lakhs of rupees because of LIC and are on the verge of committing suicide. In spite of writing to the police and other higher officers there has been no response.
Over 8000 endusulfan victims in the West Coastal districts are still deprived of the anticipated justice. The health centres at Udupi have failed to even register hundreds of aggrieved victims, let alone grant them monthly pensions. No day care centres or rehabilitation centres have been set up for nursing these children. The children have resorted to committing suicide in desperation and helplessness and we had to watch them with our hands tied. When we approached the previous Deputy Commissioner of Udupi, Dr. Vishal remarked, “We know what to do, it is not any of your business.”
Girls are trafficked every other day. We wrote a series of letters to the Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada District, Dr. Jagadish regarding this matter without any response. When we approached him personally neither did he have the minimum courtesy to hear out the matter nor did we get any solution to the matter. The illegal agents continue their activities and our girls are still getting trafficked.
When these officials lack basic etiquettes to talk to citizens how can social activists like us work with success? Why should we get insulted? When endosulfan victims are begging on the streets and senior citizens continue to shed tears will it bring a smile on their faces by my mere acceptance of an award?
One and a half acres of land is being destroyed for the construction of an agricultural university. What is the meaning of an award when such incidents continue to ensue!
I can enjoy the privilege of bagging an award only in wiping the tears of the aggrieved.
No need of publicity: I have no intentions of publicity by this refusal to receive the award. I am not doing this for name. I do not mean to disrespect or dishonor this award. However I wish and hope that this small gesture opens the eyes of the authorities and create awareness if at all, he stated.