ANDHRA PRADESH

Maoists unsparing of medium, small ryots too

URAVAKONDA (ANANTAPUR DT.), DEC. 6. The incidents of occupation of agricultural land by the naxalites of the CPI (Maoist) in the district since the beginning of the peace process earlier this year indicates that the Maoists are not just targeting landlords, but also some small, marginal and medium farmers too.

In the 12 incidents of land occupation from June-end this year, the Maoists occupied about 1,000 acres belonging to the landlords, small, marginal and medium farmers in Uravakonda, Garladinne, Kuderu and Penukonda mandals. With the exception of about 50 acres of Endowment land, about half of the remaining occupied land belongs to small, marginal and medium farmers.

Flags posted

In the latest incident at Shaikshanaipalli thanda in Uravakonda mandal, the Maoists occupied 18 acres of land belonging to two brothers from Uravakonda. The two brothers, N. Balaji and N. Krishna, do not live in Uravakonda, as both of them are employed elsewhere in Government departments and have been leasing out the land for years.

The Maoists eyed the land from the beginning of the agriculture season this year. Till last year, the land was leased out to Gunde Naik of the thanda. But, it was given to two cousins, Srinivasulu and Dhananjaya, this year for Rs. 10,000.

During a visit to the village today, the cousins told The Hindu that they would not have dared to enter the land had the Maoists objected before cultivating the land.

Lessees warned

"They posted flags in the land only after sowing groundnut in September first week and warned us against cultivating the land as they would like to distribute it among the poor of the thanda,'' they recalled.

Later, the police removed the flags, registered a case and identified six villagers who had participated in the occupation of the land. As the two small farmers invested in cultivation, they also sowed jowar around the groundnut to protect it from wild boars and other animals. They harvested groundnut recently and the jowar was in flowering and seed formation stage. But on December 2, the Maoists held a gram sabha in the thanda and issued an ultimatum to the cousins against entering the land.

"They (Maoists) told the farmers to clear the land within eight days or else it would be taken over by them along with the standing crop,'' a few villagers said. Fearing that they might not even get the fodder, if delayed, the two farmers cut jowar in the flowering stage itself on December 3. It would have reached the harvesting stage in another 30 days. "It is nothing short of snatching food from your mouth,'' the Circle Inspector of Uravakonda, M. Khasim Saheb, said.

Welcome drive

They (Maoists) should have either waited for another 30 days so that the farmers could harvest the crop or should have given the crop to somebody else, the CI felt. However, the basic issue here is that the landowners were not large farmers, he said.

The CI, however, welcomed the Maoists' awareness campaign on groundnut by pasting posters, asking the Government to provide minimum support price for the produce and warned the traders not to exploit the farmers.

"We too are telling the farmers not to sell their produce to the traders and instead go to marketyards,'' he said. About five or six traders had deceived the farmers in the area for the last few years.

The claims of insolvency position to the tune of about Rs. 2 crores by two traders would have prompted the Maoists to take up the campaign, Mr. Khasim Saheb said.

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