Twenty-three families of Angammal Colony who had launched the ‘land retrieval' struggle, on Sunday returned to the land from which they had been forcefully evicted in 2008 by a group of persons, close to the family of former DMK minister Veerapandi S Arumugam.
The members re-named the colony as ‘Cauvery Nagar' and performed poojas at a temple.
Led by a team of volunteers from the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL), the families brought in an earthmover to level the ground, measuring up to 22000 square feet and located in the heart of the city, so that “the plots could be measured and allotted to them.” They put up a cloth banner thanking Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for helping them to “retrieve their land.”
With their re-entry on Sunday, the four-year-long struggle for the land on which they and their forefathers lived for more than 80 years came to an end.
They had been fighting the powerful lobby since they were evicted on January 20, 2008, from the land, which was owned by a trust. Their houses and huts were demolished under the ruse that the land had been bought by a person ‘close' to the family of Mr. Arumugam.
The affected families claimed that they were enjoying the property for eight decades as ‘gift' for which they said they had necessary legal documents. They approached Madras High Court, which on June 27, 2008, asked the then City Police Commissioner to enquire and see that “no person is evicted from his home without any authority of law.” But the police remained mute spectators then, they claimed. After a series of agitations, AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa came to their rescue by taking up the issue to target Mr. Arumugam during her Assembly election campaigns. She declared that she would restore the land to its rightful owners if she was elected to owner. The Anti-Land Grab cell, based on the compliant from the people of Angammal colony, registered a case against Mr. Arumugam and 12 others on July 19, 2011, and arrested them on land grab charges.