In Kerala, CPI(M)-CPI face-off over land issue

Flashpoint: A party flag hoisted by CPI(M) activists at the land of a CPI leader at Chinnakanal on Friday.

Flashpoint: A party flag hoisted by CPI(M) activists at the land of a CPI leader at Chinnakanal on Friday.  

CPI accuses CPI(M) of trying to hijack its agitation and helping major encroachers in Devikulam

Even as the agitations for land by landless estate workers under the aegis of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India continue at Chinnakanal, the district administration is planning to evict the workers who have encroached on government land and erected sheds.

With the CPI and the CPI(M) at loggerheads over the land issue, the former has alleged that the CPI(M) is trying to hijack the agitation demanding land and house for landless estate workers. The CPI accused the CPI(M) of helping the land lobby and supporting the major encroachers on the land issue in Devikulam taluk.

CPI district secretary K.K. Sivaraman on Friday said there was no guarantee that all estate workers who encroached on government land would get land and house. He said it was a government decision to distribute land to the landless estate workers.

Without naming the CPI(M), Mr. Sivaraman said the ‘encroachment agitation’ was meant to hijack the agitation by the landless estate workers. There was an effort to create an impression that it was after the CPI(M)’s agitation that land was distributed to the workers. He said the CPI did not encourage encroachments, big or small, and was for evicting all encroachers. He said excess government land should be distributed to the deserved landless.

A CPI(M) leader said the agitation was for land for the landless estate workers and the party wanted to unite them on the issue without party leanings.

1,300 workers

It is estimated that 1,300 estate workers at Chinnakanal, Suryanelli, and Panniayar are without land or house after living in estate lanes (quarters of workers) for over three generations.

On Friday, CPI(M) workers hoisted a party flag in front of the house of a CPI worker at Chinnakanal creating tension. More landless estate workers erected sheds on government land on Friday.

District Collector H.Dinesan told The Hindu that a discussion had been held with the two sides and it was agreed to distribute land to deserving landless estate workers in a time frame. More encroachments would only delay the land distribution process. He said a ministerial-level meeting had also discussed the issue.

Mr. Dinesan said the administration would have to use force to evict encroachers if the encroachments continued. He said a special team under the Devikulam Subcollector had started work on verifying the title deeds issued at Chinnakanal to ascertain the veracity of documents. The team would verify all title deeds after it was found that revenue officials had connived with the land lobby in forging the documents. So far 16 officials had been suspended.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 10:09:57 PM |

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