Gregory Patrao, the farmer from Bala village who was on indefinite fast since June 17 against the forcible acquisition of his farm by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board, ended the protest with a tender coconut water here on Sunday.
His move came after Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa spoke to him over telephone the previous night and requested him to call off the protest, at the instance of Chairman of the Karnataka Organic Mission A.S. Anand, who had visited the embattled farmer on Friday.
Mr. Patrao's 350-year-old homestead was demolished and his standing crops were razed by KIADB officials with the help of the police and the district administration on April 27 this year to make way for the Phase-3 of the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited.
Mr. Patrao said, “The Chief Minister requested me to withdraw my agitation and promised that he would ask the Regional Commissioner (Mysore) to look into the details of my case.”
Mr. Patrao, who is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said, “When the Chief Minister of the Staterequested me, I had no option but to concede.” He said that Mr. Yeddyurappa called him at 9 p.m. and the Regional Commissioner, M.V. Jayanthi, called him an hour later.
“She (Ms. Jayanthi) spoke to me for a long time and said that she would make a two-day trip just to meet me on Thursday,” he said. Sources in the district BJP told The Hindu that Mr. Yeddyurappa censured the local MLAs from the party for failing to resolve Mr. Patrao's issue at their level.
After speaking to Mr. Patrao, the Chief Minister is said to have called up Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj, who ordered the demolition, and sought an explanation from him.
Mr. Patrao said that his confidence was ebbing with each passing day but the latest development had filled him with hope. He thanked the coalition of 43 organisations that supported him during the struggle.
‘Return my land'
Asked if he would reconcile with a proposal to relocate him to another farm (as suggested by Mr. Anand on Friday), Mr. Patrao said, “I just want my land back — nothing more, nothing less.” However, he said that he would keep an “open mind” during the discussions with Ms. Jayanthi, when she meets him.
The supporters of Mr. Patrao, who gathered on the occasion of breaking the fast on Sunday, were ambivalent about the long-pending issue of an amendment to the KIADB Act under which Mr. Patrao's land had been acquired.
Satyajit Surathkal, district president of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, said that the primary aim of the agitation was to ensure denotification of the land earmarked for the Phase-II of the MSEZ and not for seeking changes in the KIADB Act. Asked about the future of the Kudubi tribal people, whose lands were also acquired forcibly for the MSEZ, Mr. Surathkal said, “Their issue will be addressed when we protest for the de-notification of the MSEZ Phase-II.”
Seer of the Khemaru Math Eesha Vittaladasa described the development as a “victory of the farmers of Dakshina Kannada”. He said, “Until recently, the greatest threat to the region was posed by communal organisations. Now, it is posed by a greedy capitalist class.”