Rousing reception to Vedi leaders at Chengara
Chengara was all cheers to receive Mr. Laha Gopalan, Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi president, accompanied by the vedi secretary, Selina Prakkanam and other office-bearers on their arrival at the occupied land on Tuesday forenoon.
Hundreds of vedi workers, including women and children, thronged Counter-I of the encroached portion of the Kurumbatty division of Kumbazha Estate to receive their leaders.
The entire atmosphere was charged with ‘Jai Bheem’ slogans raised by the vedi workers. The vedi leaders were accorded a rousing reception in traditional style. Women and children were found touching Mr.
Gopalan’s feet in reverence and elderly people offered him flowers and garlands. They showered flowers on the path, escorting him to the encroached land on the banks of a natural stream.
Many women were found shedding tears of joy and praying before him with folded hands when Mr. Gopalan began to address the gathering, adding a ‘divine’ colour to his personality.
Mr. Gopalan said he was forced to accept the Chengara formula prepared by the government and backed by the Opposition leader, Oommen Chandy.
Mr. Gopalan alleged that the Chengara package in its present form was a conspiracy jointly hatched by the government and the Opposition. The vedi leader said he had “little option but to accept the formula to check the evil designs of certain vested interests to sabotage the two-year old struggle.
Mr. Gopalan alleged that the ruling Communist Party of India(Marxist) had managed to make fissures in the vedi rank and file by “bribing” at least a miniscule section of vedi workers in an attempt to defeat the non-violent land struggle at Chengara. Moreover, the vedi struggle was unlikely to get any more support from the Opposition as the formula was fully backed by Mr. Chandy, he added.
Mr. Gopalan also claimed it a victory for the vedi workers saying that “it was for the first time in the history of the State the ruling and opposition parties had to join hands for preparing a formula to end a genuine non-violent struggle for land”.
He said the encroachers would vacate the occupied land only after the allotment of their promised land in the stipulated time frame.
“Frankly speaking, I was a little bit embarrassed to face my people who have been waging a non-violent struggle for land against all odds since the past 792 days. It’s a fact that I could not make a better bargain for them, ensuring equal treatment to all of them, owing to pressures from within and outside. But, now, sensing the joy and enthusiasm of the vedi workers here who are fully convinced of my sincere efforts to present their case before the government, I am a contented soul,’’ Mr. Gopalan told The Hindu.
Second phase of stir
Addressing the crowd, Mr. Gopalan said he would launch the second phase of land struggle in the State, bringing together all sections of Dalits, including Dalit Christians, once the Chengara settlement materialised in the next three months.
He said the modus operandi could be a different one, adding that agitators might encroach upon more than one estate at a time.