CPM always boasts about revolutionary changes brought about by land reforms ushered in by the communists, starting from the Kerala's first communist government of 1957. But Land struggle in Chengara,
Pathnamtitta district of Kerala by landless Dalits and Adviasis a different story! The same CPM is now providing leadership to the group opposing this agitation.
Chengara Agitation started on 4 August 2007 demanding permanent
ownership of agricultural land through transfer of ownership from the
Harrison Company to the Landless Dalits and Adivasis. According to
Sadhujana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi (SJVSV), Harrisons Malayalam Limited got chengara land, 1,048 hectares, on lease for 99 years from Chengannur Mundankavu Vanjipuzha Matom and the lease expired long ago and they have not been paying any lease rent to anyone since 1985-86. SJVSV also allege that the company is in fact in possession of almost 5,000 hectares, not 1,048 as per the lease records. So SJVSV is demanding 5 acres of land and Rs 50,000 for each Landless family. C R Prakash, youth leader of the SJVSV says
"We've nothing against the plantation as such. We are only occupying land that belongs to us, which was encroached upon by the company. Let the government measure the land and show the company their limits."
RPG group's Harrisons Malayalam Limited is India's largest rubber
plantation company with nine major rubber plantations, and the second largest tea producer in south India, owning 10 tea plantations. The rubber and tea plantations are spread over more than 20,000 hectares of land in South India.
Ironically CPM, The party who brought in Land reforms in Kerala is leading campaign against the agitation. They alleged that the agitators have encroached upon private property, that there are landowners among them etc.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) State secretary Pinarayi
Vijayan has alleged that the agitation at Chengara in Pathanamthitta
district is being funded by U.S.-based imperialist forces. Mr. Vijayan
"there were authentic reports on the role of U.S. espionage agencies also playing a role at Chengara and the agitation was an attempt to grab land. Most of those on agitation there were not landless as it was made out to be. The backing given to the Chengara agitation was part of a U.S game plan to defame Left governments in India."
He also added that this was to avenge the strong opposition registered
by the Left parties against the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal.
Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that "certain other forces" were behind the agitations for land at Chengara. Not to be left behind,Chief Minister VS supported his Home minister alleging that those who were leading the stir were not landless and homeless people.
AK Balan, who is responsible for looking after the interests of the Dalits and Adivasis in the State as its Scheduled Tribes Welfare Minister was suspecting that there was an explicit move to transform the Chengara struggle into a Muthanga-type movement.One Adivasi and a police constable had been killed when hundreds of policemen had marched into the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary to quell an agitation by Adivasis for land to live on February 2003.
HISTORY REPEATS itself as farce, so went Marx's dictum. In Kerala, where his footsoldiers pulled off the first democratic win in the world, the Red party has turning against their own Policies and people in a vicious somersault.