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A team led by NCDHR met the Chiefminister and Minister of SC&ST ,Kerala on the ongoing land struggle at Chengara

by udaya — last modified 2009-04-06 14:24

CM assured immediate intervention and reassured his govt's commitment to destribute land among the landless and poor..



 A Delegation comprised of NCDHR-NFDLRM  members led by NCDHR  National Secretary  Vincent  Manoharan met  Chief Minister, VS Achuthanandan  and the Minister for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, A K Balan of Keralaand appraised of the  ongoing  struggle by the Dalits and Adivasis for land at Chengara ,Pathanamthitta district and demanded that land should be distributed to the Struggling Landless people and their interests  and concerns should be addressed.
The Chief Minister assured the Team that the Govt has already initiated a process to identify the Government and surplus land and committed to the policy of   distribution of land to the poor and the landless.
The  Minister for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes informed that the District Administration was already started surveying the land and assured to distribute it  to the Struggling people. He also assured that  the SC/ST (PoA) Act 1989 should be properly  implemented to protect the Rights of the SCs and STs. 

National Federation of Dalit Land Rights Movements (NFDLRM) is a National Platform of Dalit organizations, Land rights movements and Activists from all over the country. It is part of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, a Human Rights Advocacy Platform  in India.
NFDLRMs concentrates in addressing the Socio Economic Rights of Dalits very particularly the  issue of Land for Dalits. It mobilizes the Landless Dalits for Mass Action and  under takes Advocacy and Legal Intervention  to ensure land and livelihood and  also upheld the issue of Civil Political Rights of Dalits who face the inhuman practice of Untouchability which has been identified along with Apartheid.  We undertake Fact Findings on the Struggles of  Dalits and  draw attention of authorities concerned  to ensure justice to victims and communities who strive for  human rights, right to land and livelihood.
NFDLRM and NCDHR team visited  the area and the People who struggle  
· Manas Jena,National convenor,National Federation of Dalit land Rights Movements, Bhubaneswar, Orissa.
· Mr. Lalit Babbar,National Co convenor,NFDLRM, Maharashtra.
· Mr. Arun Khote,National Media Secretary, NCDHR,NewDelhi
· Mr. R Prakash, NCDHR, Convenor, Kerala.
· Mr. Pradeep ,Human Rights Defender,Pathanamthitta.
· Mr. J .Vincent Manoharan,General secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights(NCDHR),New Delhi.
The Team  met the following persons:
        ·    Shri .V.S.  Achuthanandan,chief  minister , Kerala
         ·   Shri.  AK  Balan ,Minister of  Scheduled  castes and  Scheduled  Tribes,       
· Mr. Laha Gopalan Leader of Sadhujana Vimochana Samyutha Vedhi – who leads the struggle
· Around 2000 people who participate in the fight along with Ms.  Saraswathy, Secretary , SVSVS.
·  Leaders of various Dalit organizations -  KDP, AKPMS, Bamboo Workers Union, Dalit Unity Centre, etc.,
· Rev. M.J. Joseph and Johnson ,Solidarity Co-ordination Committee .

 Major Findings:
· Dalits and Adivasis are the most neglected among the marginalized and the Landless in this state.
· Their life and livelihood is at stake and no successive Governments paid sufficient  attention to address the demands of these people
·  This struggle is going on  fro a long time and the people withdrawn  from  such a similar struggle 8 months back  as per the assurance of the Government to allot  land.
· Harrison’s   Malayalam Plantations Corporation is a Private Company which holds thousands of hectares of land  in the  state and cultivates Tea and Rubber Plantation
· It was told that  the company violated the conditions of the Lease agreement and sublet and even sold lands under its hold.
· This company also encroached large areas of land and  occupy it  illegally .
· It tries to extend the Lease period and argue  that  even though the land  belongs  to  the Government  the Rubber Trees are  the  company’s.
·  CITU , the trade union  of  CPI(M) , the major  constituent  of the ruling Left Democratic Front   in its attempt to  protect the interest of the Plantation workers , so far didn’t  show  any interest in the struggle
· The Dalits and Adivasis allege  that the Government always come out with the customary reply that there is no surplus  land in Kerala  to allocate to the landless.
· Therefore the  Dalits and Adivasis now demand the govt to  seize the  land under  H&C company ,as the lease period is already over  due  and distribute among the real owners of the land who are rendered landless.
· The Non Dalits and the Land Mafia are eying the land and they do not want the Dalits and  Adivasis  to get this high cost fertile  land .
· Media silence is conspicuous  – may be with a notion to block  this struggle and to create a myth among  the general public that this struggle is disoriented and the strugglers disappeared  from the scene.
· Dalit Movements yet to join this struggle but they start expressing  their solidarity in different ways.
· The Solidarity Committee formed by Navchetana is active in giving visibility to this issue through various strategies like Satyagraha, consultations, cultural activities, holding public meetings, poster campaign  etc.,
· NFDLRMs initiated by NCDHR visited the  area a month back , met the struggling people and assured its  solidarity and support and came out with a poster campaign.
   ·  The district Collector has assured the Struggling People that the whole land in question will be surveyed and the surplus land will be notified  as Government land and will inform  the  Government on the demands of the Ds and Ads.
· The Landless families of Ds and Ads registered with SJSVSV and moved in to the hilly area to pitch their tents demanding land. The number is increasing day by day.
· The people who have pitched their tents in the Hills are not  dared  to move out of the  site either  fearing an attack from  Goondas of the Company or the Government will use force  to evict them.
· But they seem to be determined even to face bullets for their cause
· They suffer from hunger and various diseases like  chikungunya  which is worsened by   monsoon.
· Children stopped attending schools   because of  this struggle.
· The sick ,aged and  disabled are the worst  sufferers both physically and mentally.
The  Demands
· SCs, STs ,Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims  should be given land for housing and cultivation for a decent livelihood. The title deed  should be issued  in the  name of the Women and Men. 
· The struggling Dalits and Adivasis in Chengara and other  areas should not be evicted  as they are struggling for their livelihood
· The lease agreement with Harrison Malayalam Plantations Corporations   and other Private parties  should be cancelled and the land should be  distributed  among the Dalits and Adivasis
·  Legal Actions should be taken  against  H&C and  similar companies other  than  cancellation of the agreement .
· Medical assistance should be provided to the strugglers as they suffer from Chikungunya and other communicable diseases.
· The poor and land less families  should  also be provided  with  interest free loan without any collateral security for housing and agricultural activities like land development, irrigation, purchase of agricultural appliance, seeds etc.
· SCs and STs(POA)Act 1989 should be implemented strictly by the state government to protect the communities from the practices of untouchability and caste discrimination in all spheres.
· Any effort by the Harrison Malayalam Plantations corporations to evict these Struggling people by any means  should be prevented  by the Government and it should  protect the struggling Dalits and Adivasis.
· The Surplus land in the State should be identified by implementing the Land Ceiling Act and the same be distributed to the landless Dalits, Adivasis and other Marginalised Communities.
All Dalit and Adivasi Movements, Political Parties and Civil Society Organisations are requested to express their Solidarity and Support at all possible ways and means to strengthen the Struggle of Dalits and Adivasis of Chengara for  land to ensure a secure Life with Dignity  
Contact Details to enlist  support to this Struggle :
Mr. Laha Gopalan ,State President – SVSV
Ms. Saraswathi, State Secretary - SVSV
Pattanamthitta PO
Kerala .
Laha Mobile: 092491 01709
Manas Jena
National Convenor – NFDLRMs
Lalit Babar
National Co-Convenor – NFDLRMs

General Secretary – NCDHR



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