An eviction drive led by the Revenue and Police Departments on Tuesday on land reportedly under the possession of Harrisons Malayalam Limited (HML) at Nedumbala, near Mepadi, has triggered protests in the district.

M.V. Sheryamskumar, MLA, after visiting the site under the Arapetta division of the HML, said the action of the district administration was unfortunate and improper as those evicted were tenants on the land, not encroachers.

Seven of the 24 families, reportedly tenants, were evicted in the drive. The drive was as per a directive of the Kerala High Court on January 29. The court had directed that those who had encroached on the land in 2012 should be evicted in two months.

Court directive

The court directed to evict the encroachers who had claimed rights on various parts of the HML land erecting huts, not the tenants, Mr. Sheryamskumar said adding that the action of the officials could not be justified.

Many families had been in possession of the land for the past 45 years and they had paid land tax till 1998, Mr. Sheryamskumar said, adding they deserved title deeds for the land.

He said he discussed the issue with the Revenue Minister and would bring the issue to the attention of the government. District Collector Kesavendrakumar said the drive was as per the court directive and temporary shelter would be provided to those evicted from the land.

500 families

Close to 500 families under the aegis of the Adivasi Kshema Samiti (AKS) and the Kerala Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU), feeder organisations of the CPI(M), had claimed rights on the HML land erecting huts at five sites in the district in 2012 asking the government to resume surplus land allegedly in possession of the HML and disburse it to the landless.

Meanwhile, revenue officials served notices on the tribesmen, who had encroached on the HML land as a part of the agitation, at Thazhe Arapetta, near Mepadi, to leave the land on or before Friday.

C.K. Saseendran, secretary of the CPI(M) district unit, condemned the drive as uncivilised. He said any action to evict the protesters would be resisted by his party.

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