Photo caption: Vishwanathan and his wife (centre) with other relatives
If Pakistani Rangers were out to neutralize him during the Kargil War, now it’s the CPI(M) goons who are after him. His crime: he refused to pay a bribe of Rs 1 lakh to the local CPI(M) branch secretary.
After his retirement, Kargil war veteran Hon. Captain PM Viswanathan, 54, had one wish: to settle down in his native village in Ekkattur, Kozhikode. He decided to build a modest house on a small piece of land he had inherited. But then there was a problem: the land was categorised as wetland and a state government rule doesn’t permit any construction on wetland. However, according to the provisions in the rule homeless persons who do not have an alternative plot can seek relaxation. He sought relaxation and got the clearance from the village officer, panchayat secretary and agricultural officer. The district Revenue Divisional Officer gave him permission to fill 10 cents (0.1 acre) for construction of the house.
When he started the piling work, the CPI(M) branch secretary showed up and demanded a bribe of Rs 1 lakh “for party’s support”. An upright army man, Vishwanathan flatly refused. Upset, the Marxist leader first warned the service providers against supplying building materials to the armyman. Using his political clout, the party leader forced officials in the panchayat, village office and Agriculture department to issue ‘orders to halt the work. Pushed to the wall, Vishwanathan had to stop the work. Since then the retired armyman and his wife have been putting up in a makeshift shed with a tarpaulin roof. He’s at sea as to what he would do when his son, studying in Bengaluru, and daughter, studying in a Homeopathic college at Kochi, come back for their vacation.
Despite the threat of physical violence and death, Vishwanathan is not ready to give in. He knows that Marxists in ‘party villages’ are vicious, but he never thought they would turn against him. Most of his family members are staunch CPI(M) supporters and his wife is an active member. Moreover, his three brothers, who are ex-servicemen, have also been CPI(M) supporters.
Vishwanathan is not ready to take the CPI(M) high-handedness lying down. He has already approached the Kozhikkode District Collector and Kerala High Court.
Vishwanathan had taken part in many Army operations, including Kargil, Sri Lanka and Nagaland.
Indus Scrolls spoke to Muraleedhar Gopal (formerly with Army Education Corps) and Hon. Subedar Major. They are the district president and secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Poorva Sainik Parishad, Kozhikode, respectively. Expressing their concern and anger over the turn of events, Muraleedhar said the Parishad is the only organization that has come forward to help Viswanathan.