Her Long Drive to Justice
Meet the lady who rode against violent storms and dared to make her dreams come true. Venkatalakshmi gives a ride to her struggling journey from being an autorikshaw driver to a lawyer
We should be like grass. Even if you are crushed under rock, you hold your nerves to find out the way.” The above holds true in Ms Venkatalakshmi journey of life, as the 37 year old female auto rickshaw driver fought against all odds and triumphed as a Lawyer. A decade ago, she had everything to lead a decent middle-class life in Bangalore: a two floor house, a car, an auto rickshaw and a small business. But, destiny had other plans stored for her. Fate was not kind enough to her. A greedy politician, his henchmen along with a land mafia together conspired and made her lose everything, except the auto rickshaw.
“They forced me to sell my house worth 11 lakhs at throwaway prices. They insisted upon me to become the 4th wife of that criminal when I was just 26 year old with a 3 year old daughter who was suffering from TB. They threatened to abduct my daughter if I refused to comply with their demands. My auto driver quit because of their threat. No police, no law, no parents, no in-laws came forward to rescue me. I was literary alone and helpless. Many people, including a lady lawyer advised me not go against the mighty people” Venkatalakshmi goes on narrating her painful past.
Venkatalakshmi was a good singer, dancer and stage performer during her college days. Once a few miscreants tried to abduct her at the time. But, being a brave NCC cadet she was able to escape from their clutches. Not only did the police not register her complaint, but threatened to implicate her in a false case for no fault of hers. But, she didn’t give up. She approached the then Police Commissioner of Bangalore city, Mr. HT Sangliyana who was well-known to be an efficient officer. It was this efficient cop who forced the department to put the culprits behind the bars. The obstacles haunted her even in the court of law. The public prosecutor who was supposed to argue in favor of her turned hostile. She was not ready to give up. She sought special permission from the judge and she herself argued for two and a half hours in the court and succeeded to convince the judge and get justice. Now all the accused are languishing in jail. “The people who tried to kidnap me were the henchmen of the local politician and this is the main reason behind their revenge against me,” recalls Venkatalakshmi.
The sordid saga continued. When she bought land in Bidadi near Bangalore, her enemies continued to harass her. She was booked under three false cases, of which she managed to win two and the remaining one is still in the court.
In the meanwhile, Venkatalakshmi chose to drive her Auto herself for her livelihood and also for her only daughter Vasuki. At the same time as she had experienced how even the police officers should stand helpless in delivering justice to the deprived, she made up her mind to opt for becoming an advocate and left no stone unturned to join the law course. Finally she passed the course and enrolled herself as an advocate in May 2012.
“Luckily I had grown up with my uncle P.Shankarmurthy, who was a writer and a Kannada activist. He used to inspire me with his scores of heroic stories and epics. This made me strong within. King Harishchandra had to guard crematory, Mahatma Gandhi who was born in a rich family had to struggle so hard, why can’t I? I asked myself, the amount of pain and humiliation I am facing is nothing in front of them. I learned to build a mansion with the stones thrown at me” says Venkatalakshmi confidently.
A small Interview of VenkatalakshmiHow could you manage time for study?
It was a very hectic schedule for me which made me what I am today. Getting up at 5.30 am and driving for a school trip till 7.30am. After returning, I would do household chores and drop my daughter to school and then attend my law classes. Post that, I would go to drive Auto again. In evenings, I used to take tuitions in my locality. I was able to study for myself only after making my daughter asleep.
What is the secret of your success?
I had a focused goal and a strong belief that I can achieve it. I was facing toughest challenges like poverty, humiliation, enmity, harassment. But, what I thought is that many great people faced more challenges than what I am facing. Never give up attitude made me what I am today.
Do you feel that you had to face more hardships because you are a woman?
Sometimes. But I learned very quickly. Such cheap tricks can’t shake one who is strong in her conviction and decisions.
I will work in black gown for women empowerment and serve the needy. Right now, I have chosen to work with an organisation of senior advocate Mr. M.T. Nanaiah. Being committed to keep away from corruption, I will extend all help to the needy.
What’s your message to the youngsters?
Don’t be afraid of anything in life. Poor performance in exams doesn’t decide your entire life all alone. There is nothing like inferior or superior profession. If you work hard you can do wonders. My humble request to parents is that they should work towards making their children value driven strong individuals. If children are strong, they can face any situation and think of never giving it up in their life under any given situation. I wish youth all the best.