The CPM on Wednesday set fire to a protest venue of farmers of the Keezhattur village in Kerala’s Kannur district, who were protesting against the levelling of paddy fields to acquire lands needed for a highway project. It act happened at about 1:45 PM on Wednesday.
A local report claimed that the despite the district collector’s assurances of holding talks the next day, the protesters demanded that survey works (possibly regarding the highway construction) conducted everywhere should be stopped. The other regions witnessing survey works included Kutiikoll and Kuvood.
As per a video embedded in the report, one protester alleged that the new road would destroy prime agricultural land, and also claimed that it was being done in the interests of “Real estate corporates”. Another protester claimed that he was a CPM worker, and that the party has turned away from its ideals.
As per a report by Times Now, the tents of protesting farmers were set ablaze in Kerala’s Kannur allegedly by CPM workers. These were erected by a farmers group named Vayalkili in order to protest against the state government’s decision to acquire paddy lads for constructing a highway. Besides seeing their tents burnt, the farmers also suffered a blow after they were arrested or removed from the protest venue by the police.
The contention of the farmers is that agricultural land should not be used for agricultural purposes. They claim that these lands are their livelihood, which was handed down to them by their ancestors. This impasse had initially resulted in talks between the government and the farmers but no compensation package was agreed upon, which resulted in the protest.
As per other reports, the protesters had earlier threatened to immolate themselves and on Wednesday came to the protest venue doused in diesel. In total, about 100 people were doused in inflammable liquids. This village though is incidentally considered a CPM stronghold.
This farmer protest has also snowballed into a political issue after the BJP extended support to the protesters. As per the BJP, they were against this acquisition as there are alternatives available for the construction of the highway.
Such an anti-farmer act by the CPM is ironic considering, just days before All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the peasant’s arm of the CPM, was seen openly supporting the cause of the Maharashtra farmers, who had marched from Nashik to Mumbai demanding reliefs like rights to forest land and loan waivers.
This protest though was tactfully diffused by the Fadnavis government before it could possibly take a turn for the worse.
With inputs from Ananth Krishna