Even as the Kerala government is going ahead with the anti-encroachment drive in Munnar and other parts of Idukki district, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] district leadership here is preparing for an open protest against the drive led by a Revenue department task force.
The protest will be launched under the banner of the Chinnakkanal land protection movement.
According to local residents, the Chinnakkanal land protection movement was formed nearly eight months ago demanding the translocation of a wild tusker, called Arikompan. CPI(M) district secretary C.V. Varghese attended a meeting convened by the movement at Chinnakkanal on Monday and offered support to the protest.
The meeting decided to submit a memorandum to the Idukki District Collector demanding that the eviction of farmers be ended. The movement also decided to submit a review petition before the Kerala High Court on the eviction drive.
At the meeting, Mr. Varghese said that the district administration was trying to arouse anti-government sentiments by evicting settler farmers. “We will not allow eviction of any farmers in Idukki. If the task force continues to evict farmers, we will conduct an open protest with the support of the local people,” said Mr. Varghese.
According to sources, the recent eviction drive in Chinnakkanal village has caused anti-government sentiments among farmers. Against this backdrop, the CPI(M) has now decided to join the protest.
Chinnakkanal land protection movement president Mathew Varghese said that a meeting of the movement would be held at Sinkukandam on Sunday. “If the task force attempts to evict any farmer in the coming days, we will block the drive. The movement welcomes the eviction of major encroachers, but will not allow eviction of farm lands ranging from 5 cents to 4 acres,” he said.
As per HC, govt. orders
A top Revenue department official said that the eviction drive was launched following directives from the Kerala High Court and the State government. “On the list of encroachments, nearly 80 are of small extent, including below 5 cent homes, churches and other religious institutions. The task force has decided not to clear such small encroachments till a final direction is issued by the court or the government,” the official said.
“The task force has no special intention to evict any encroachers. If the State government directs to stop the drive, the team members will follow the direction. Till then, we will continue with the drive,” said the official.