Forty-three-year-old Chandrashekar Gowda went to live in the forests on exile after the Nelluru Kemraje Co-operative Society in Dakshin Kannada auctioned his 2.29 acre farm land in 2002. He had failed to repay his loan of Rs. 50,400, because which the co-operative confiscated and sold his land.
After the auction, he stayed with his sister for a while, but later managed to buy a second FIAT car which he made his home in the forest. He parked it at a clearing on the edge of the forests of Bedrupane in Arantodu near Sullia where he has been living all these years.
For 14 years now, he has since been walking 21 km to Sullia once every week to sell the baskets he weaves at Rs 40 per piece.
Having learnt recently about Gowda, Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim has initiated steps for his rehabilitation
On January 28 Ibrahim discussed the issue and brought Gowda to Mangaluru to hear his version of the story. Representatives of the Nelluru Kemraje Co-operative Society, social activist Hilda Rayappan, psychiatrist Ravish Thunga and district superintendent of police S D Sharanappa also attended the meeting.
Gowda explained that he had taken a short-term loan and two crop loans totalling Rs 50,400 from the society in 1999. The society initiated proceedings against him in 2002 as he failed to repay the amount in time. Later it auctioned the land for Rs 1.2 lakh in October 2002. After deducting the capital and interest that was due, the balance amount Rs 11,000 was with the society, which Gowda has not claimed so far.
He was evicted from the land with police help and his house was demolished. “Gowda could have gone for legal or judicial recourse in the case and could have got a better solution. We are also getting him psychiatric treatment and counselling," Ibrahim said.