Stories of bravado, though rare, often leave us with warm, fuzzy feelings and a hint of optimism. This is a story of a grandmother, who along with help from the authorities, went against all odds to break stereotypes of gender. While the high-spirited, 108-year-old Krishnaveniammal from Siruvandhadu village in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, is the epitome of sedulousness, she was fortunate enough to find help in local police authorities.
The family property rights in the state elect the male member of the family by default to inherit ancestral land. But Krishnaveniammal retrieved the property rights from her son and redistributed it equally among her three daughters and her male heir. We learn of her roaring success story from one police officer who guided her every step of the way.
Zeal of the centenarian
Krishnaveniammal lives with her three widowed daughters in a 900-square-foot house with a thatched roof, which was built in 1944. The house, which is priced at approximately Rs 20 lakh, and the land worth Rs 6 crore was inherited by her son Ganesan, who holds a government job.
Living away from his family, Ganesan failed to take care of them. Above all, there was a growing feeling of concern among family members about Ganesan abandoning his mother and sisters by selling the property.
In late October, her grandson, Kammankanan shared her fears with his neighbourhood friends — Shabbir Ali Baig and Nasir Ahmed. The friends informed District Superintendent of Police, S Radhakrishnan, who holds a reputation for addressing senior citizens’ grievances within three days.
Even as a centenarian, the grandmother took the legal route to stand up for the equal rights of her daughters and approached the police station herself.
In a video shared by Shabbir, Krishnaveniammal is seen explaining to the police officer about her situation. “I am very old and may pass away soon. Right now, my son owns the property but I want to share it among my daughters, too. I requested my son to agree on sharing the inheritance, but he refused,” the grandmother tells Radhakrishnan and adds, “Before I die, I want to see my property split among my daughters.”
What the video here:
“I was surprised to know that such an elderly woman had knocked on the doors of the police. I immediately rushed downstairs from my office to see her address the issue,” says Radhakrishnan, adding that the department started this initiative for immediate grievance redressal of senior citizens.
The officer learned that Ganesan was depriving his own family of “basic necessities like groceries”. “Krishnaveniammal also has a sentimental value for the house as she wishes to breathe her last in her ancestral home,” the police officer shares.
Speaking about finding solutions in the law, he adds, “There are provisions under the Senior Citizenship Act where the property can be reclaimed through mutual consent. The provisions under the act mention that if the children are not taking care of their parents, the property can be retrieved.”
Reclaiming the property
The officer says the documents mentioned the ownership rights of the property were given to Ganesan in good faith. Radhakrishnan then immediately called Ganesan and convinced him to give up sole ownership of property and share it with his sisters.
After convincing him to hand over the documents, a fresh set of papers was drafted to distribute the property equally among the four siblings.
“Kammankanan approached us to discuss the problem, and we knew about the police department’s services. We were happy to help and see the matter resolved within a day,” Shabbir says, adding, “I was not surprised when Krishnaveniammal decided to take this step. I see her independent even at a surprisingly old age. She cooks, does the house chores and has all the vitals going strong.”
He adds that the police were prompt in providing support, however, the police officer feels that he has only performed his duty. “There are many issues faced by senior citizens regarding property disputes and even issues of children not caring for them. It is our duty to protect the rights of such individuals,” Radhakrishnan concludes.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)