Village office employees refuse to accept money

Tension prevailed at the village office at Anayara on Wednesday when victims of a land scam at Kadakampally turned up there to remit land tax. Authorities had not allowed them to pay tax for the past two years, saying that there were other title deed holders for the same property.

The landowners wanted to pay the land tax as an inquiry by the Deputy Director, Vigilance, South Zone, had found that there was an attempt to grab 45.4 acres of land. Irate landowners thronged the village office to remit the tax, but the office staff refused to accept payment, reasoning that the village officer was absent.

The landowners insisted on meeting the District Collector. They relented after the Collector promised to meet them on April 12.

A landowner, Thankachan, said the report submitted by the Deputy Director had mentioned an attempt to grab the land and suggested strict action against officials who connived with those who tried to usurp the property. Though enforcers questioned Salim Raj, the former gunman of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, on his role in the scam, no action had been initiated so far, he said.

Balu, another victim, said that they had paid the tax last on 2011-2012. Since then their attempt to remit tax was opposed by authorities. “We are not able to apply for loans to build house or to meet the education and marriage expenses of children. We cannot sell the land because of the issue,” he said. Mr. Balu said for the last 60 years they had been paying land tax without hindrance.

CPI(M) leader and MLA V. Sivankutty, who arrived at the spot, told the protestors that the party would join hands with them in their fight if the talks with the Collector failed to yield result.