Want State to resume surplus land allegedly with HML

Tension prevailed here on Saturday morning after a team of revenue and police department personnel which tried to evict a group of people who had encroached upon a piece of land reportedly in possession of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd. (HML) was thwarted.

The Kerala High Court had directed the district administration on January 29 to evict those who had encroached upon the HML land at five sites such as Arapetta under the Mupainad village; Anappara in Chundale; Perumkoda in Puzhuthana; Pozhuthana in Achuranom; and Thovarimala in Nenmeni within two months.

It was reported that the protesters encroached upon the land and erected huts under the aegis of the Adivasi Kshema Samiti (AKS) and the Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU), two feeder organisations of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], in 2012 demanding that the government resume surplus land allegedly possessed by the HML, and disburse it to the landless people.

Close to 400 people belonging to 150 families encroached upon nearly 200 acres here as part of the agitation.

When a team of Revenue officials led by K.K. Ganeshan, Additional District Magistrate, reached the spot along with armed police personnel around 9 a.m. to implement the court directive, a group led by C.K. Saseendran, district unit secretary, CPI(M), and P. Krishnaprasad, former MLA, resisted the attempt. Suicide threatThe tension increased when four protesters, identified as Mary George, 50, of Panayamkadom; Ismail of Vadakkan; Rahim of Changassery, and M.C. Aneesh, poured kerosene on themselves and threatened to commit suicide if they were evicted.

Later, Mr. Ganeshan held a discussion with the leaders of the protesters around 12 p.m. and promised that the issue would be solved after a discussion in the presence of the District Collector. The protesters led a march to the HML Arapetta office in protest against the eviction drive.

Mr. Ganeshan told The Hindu that the drive could not be completed owing to massive resistance from the protesters, and future action would be decided after a discussion with senior department officials.

On Tuesday, the revenue officials had evicted seven families, reportedly tenants on the land, at Nedumbala, near here.

On Wednesday, the officials opened a relief camp for them at a school at Mepadi following a public protest. However, the relief camp was closed on Saturday after village officials reported that the evicted families possessed own land. Though the families protested against the stance of the officials, they were removed using force.

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