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22. Ex-Serviceman's Plot

He was an only child who had inherited some lands and a house and had settled as a graduate teacher in his native place. He had more than one ambition, but was not a dynamic man. As he was comfortably settled, though not on a grand scale, he never ventured to try anything new. His one real hope was an acre and a half of lands suitable for conversion into plots. In the mid 50's the craze for plots was unknown. It was a time when not even one of the present score of colonies in that town had sprung up. As this piece of land was on the fringe of a main road of the town and was facing the most important office complex there, he was pinning his hope on its conversion into plots. He aimed at a sum of Rs.17,000, which was very high at the time for that town.

One day he came with a face charged with depression and dismay. It did not take long for him to disclose the source of his depression. One of his friends employed in the office opposite to his plot had called on him and narrated an important development. The staff members of that office had been feeling the need for a housing colony. Some arrangements were made and all the members had agreed on the idea of founding a housing society. They approached the government for sanction of housing loans to the members. Many successive collectors had not evinced any enthusiasm for such a proposal. Therefore, no such proposal had taken shape till then. The Collector at that time offered all encouragement to the idea and asked the representatives of the staff society to arrange for a plot. This spurred the office staff and they again approached the Collector with the idea of acquiring the 1½ acres of land just opposite to their office. The Collector readily approved of the idea and agreed to pass orders to acquire the area. The plot had been surveyed, the value fixed, the necessary formalities were being gone through. After elaborate revenue calculations, the compensation was fixed as Rs.2,000 for the entire land according to the prevailing rules. It is at this stage that the owner of the plot got the news. His disappointment and despair were understandable, as the proposal had taken shape and the Collector was personally enthusiastic about the idea. In a matter of a month or two the plot might be taken away and the owner informed and compensated. The one hope of making some money was now slipping away. Being a young man and not placed in a position to move higher-ups to stall the move to acquire the land, he was steeped in gloom. The problem was real to him and the authority he had to face was formidable for his social position. His one lingering hope was to bring some benevolent influence on the Collector and request him to change to another plot. The advantageous position of his plot for the staff of that office was a difficult point to argue against. He mustered courage after some time and started talking to me. The very first question he asked me was whether I knew anyone whose word would weigh with the Collector. Having said this, he gave the above details.

I had a totally different view of the situation. I refrained from answering him but asked him a counter question. My question was how that property had been originally acquired by his family. He asked whether it was possible to save the situation and avert the acquisition. I knew that this man had visited the Ashram and had the Darshan of the Mother a little while earlier, not so much impelled by devotion as to oblige an elderly relative's invitation. My view was that no wrong would come to a person who had seen Mother. As he was not a devotee in any sense of the word, if I explained my thought to him, he would only be irritated. I simply said that this property would never be lost, if only he could assure me that it was acquired originally by fair means. He took great pains to give me the details of its original purchase by his father some twenty years earlier. It was done with hard earned money. He was eager to get some right word from someone and obliged me with every possible information. I explained that if only he could give the history of the plot couched in the history of his family, certainly a way out would emerge. He started, "My father was a doctor who joined the active service."  I got my clue and asked him to stop any further narration. As an ex-service man's family, they would normally enjoy a special treatment at the hands of the government. I suggested that he move the ex-serviceman's organisation. He in turn entrusted me with the task of drafting an application to their head office in Delhi.

On the seventh day he came to me with a broad smile. He said that on receiving his application the Delhi office telegraphically instructed the District Ex-Serviceman's Association to approach the Collector to drop the move of acquiring his plot. A man from that office called on him that morning and assured him that no one on earth would lay a finger on his property. The Collector (who was President of the District Ex-Serviceman's Association) was also telegraphically requested by Delhi to drop the proposal. A few years later, the plot was sold for Rs.47,000.

book | by Dr. Radut