Eighty-four-year-old Savitriamma had raised her eight children only to be tricked into signing away her rights to any property or other assets in her name by one of her sons.
Savitriamma signed the documents in good faith while being completely unaware of everything her son had done. Her son immediately requested that she vacate the property a few days after she had signed the paperwork. None of the other kids intervened to save her because they were all involved in the deception and had received payment in part from it.
She spent the following months hopping from place to place, visiting police stations, courts, and even meeting with powerful politicians asking for justice. But ended up in vain. Ultimately, when she was on the verge of giving up, she arrived at Dr. Ravindranath Shanbhogue’s office.
“Frustrated that I couldn’t even defend her fundamental rights, she questioned what kind of human rights organisation I was running. That’s what made me decide to take her case. I asked her to spare me 24 hours so I could conduct some basic research and promised to come up with a solution.” said seventy two-year old Dr Ravindranath
Savitriamma was afflicted from Parkinson’s disease, according to Dr. Ravindranath, and was unable to even sign the petition because of it. According to Section 6 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007, I had to sign it on her behalf, he claims. Her rights and assets were restored three months after we filed the petition.
Dr. Ravindranath discovered the Act, which was put into effect to give senior citizens financial stability, welfare, and protection, thanks to his research. The government must establish old age homes and guarantee older residents’ access to healthcare, and children must maintain their parents. He has since encountered no obstacles to his search.
He established the Human Rights Protection Foundation (HRPF), Udupi, in 1992. He claims that it is possibly the only one that is funded entirely internally. “Not even a bank account exists for us. We keep our operating costs to an absolute minimum, and when a need does exist, we step up and fill it. I have never taken money or approached anyone, or any other organisation up so far for funding. Every case that the organisation takes on and pursues is done pro bono and without charge.
He enrolled in a law school to gain legal knowledge in order to properly guide and support the harmed and the vulnerable elderly.
“You must appreciate that today there are several organisations working on legal awareness. But when I started in 1992, there was no internet and even the basic knowledge about law was missing,” he says.
Dr. Ravindranath’s own foray into public service began in 1976 when he was detained during India’s emergency period.
Speaking about it, he claims, “After spending three months in jail, I met a number of experienced criminals, and the police atrocities they endured inspired me to work for them. After three months, there was no charge brought against me, and I was declared innocent. But those three months in jail altered my viewpoint.
“The judiciary was regarded as being out of reach for those with minimal resources because it appeared to be overloaded with cases. This is what led me to create the Consumer Forum back in 1980 in Basrur, a little village in Udupi with a population of roughly 5,000,” the man claims. He continues by saying that organising numerous legal awareness camps and activities was necessary because simply offering legal aid or assistance was ineffective.
The organisation has worked on a number of fronts pertaining to the defence of human rights over the years. Dr. Ravindranath asserts, “We have worked for it, whether it be concerns with human trafficking and labour regulations or environmental protection. It’s accurate to say that the past 20 years have kept everyone at the foundation quite busy.
However, Savitriamma’s case marked the organization’s first encounter with issues that annoy elderly parents. The organization’s method of operation is extremely obvious. When someone enters to file a complaint, the volunteers capture the complete history as well as a video of the events. Dr. Ravindranath states, “In some cases, we saw that the senior citizen passed away immediately after a case was reported with us. Six older individuals who came to us with complaints stated that this had occurred to them. We take care to record the individual and retain it with us as proof in order to prevent such criminal activity. The abrupt, unexplained fatalities have halted since this practice.
Being forced to hear such heartbreaking accounts of families turning against you is a difficult part of the work Dr. Ravindranath and his staff do. Regardless, the team continues to work hard to find them justice.