A senior revenue department official told The Hindu that the exchange of land and its transfer of registry happened during the 2009-10 period. The United Democratic Front (UDF) government came to power in May 2011

The Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s land rights agitation in the district has come under a cloud.

Reports are emerging that the land where the party has launched its struggle actually changed hands during the term of the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.

The party had identified 150-odd acres of pokkali fields in Chariyamthuruth in Kadamakkudy panchayat as ‘excess’ land and demanded that it be recovered from private parties and assigned to the landless.

The party had alleged that the land was handed over to a private company in which former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev had stakes in the name of a project called Kochi Medicity. Subsequently, about 350 party activists declaring their intention to court arrest entered the plot and planted party flags as part of the State-wide launch of Bhoosamaram (agitation for land) on New Year day.

The district revenue department said the land was now in the name of 11 individual shareholders. A senior revenue department official told The Hindu that the exchange of land and its transfer of registry happened during the 2009-10 period. The United Democratic Front (UDF) government came to power in May 2011.

The official said the revenue department had nothing to do with the project as the department had not acquired the land for the proposed Kochi Medicity project. The transactions were purely private in nature as buyers bought the land from its owners, the official said.

Striking a defiant stand, CPI(M) district secretary M.V. Govindan said it was not the transfer of land but its conversion that mattered.

“When was any legislation passed in this country preventing transfer of land and how would the party know when someone sells their land? The party interfered when it became clear that the land was being converted and construction planned there. We will continue to do that wherever it happens,” he said.

According to local residents in Kadamakkudy panchayat, the land was originally used for shrimp farming for six months and pokkali cultivation for the rest of the year. It was lying idle for sometime before it was eventually transferred to private parties.

K.V. William, president in-charge of Kadamakkudy panchayat, said it is common knowledge that the transfer of land had taken place during the LDF rule. “The land belonging to multiple owners, probably more than 10, was bought by the promoters one after another. A vast tract of land belonged to one of the landowners and when he sold it off the owners of the other contiguous plots were perhaps left with no other alternative,” he said.

Benny Behanan, a Congress MLA, said the revelation has only revealed the double standards of the Marxist party and its lack of sincerity for the causes it supports.

“It has now become clear that the Kochi Medicity was proposed during the LDF rule and protests if any should be held in front of the AKG Centre or Cantonment House, the residence of Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan,” he said.

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