Kerala tribal leader vows to resume stir for land

February 19th, 2008 - 11:51 pm ICT by admin  

Kozhikode (Kerala), Feb 19 (IANS) Kerala’s tribal leader C.K. Janu, who led a major agitation five years back in Wayanad district demanding land for tribals in the state, Tuesday warned of launching the stir again. “We will declare the restart of the stir at the commemoration (of the fifth anniversary of the Muthanaga stir in Wayanad), which will be held at Sulthan Bathery Wednesday,” Janu told IANS.

The Muthanga agitation Feb 19 in 2003 ended in violence. Tribals in the hilly district of Wayanad led by the Adivasi Gothra Mahasahba (AGMS) occupied Muthanaga forests and erected tents Jan 5, 2003. After a month-long standoff, the police used force to remove them, resulting in the death of a tribal and a policeman.

“We will go ahead with the stir by occupying land and erecting tents in Wayanad,” Janu, who leads the AGMS, said.

“The ruling LDF (Left Democratic Front) has no intention of providing land to tribals. The LDF (had) promised when they come to power that they would withdraw all police cases related to the Muthanga stir. But it did not happen,” she added.

Janu said the Muthanga agitation has helped to bring the struggle of the landless on the agenda of many organizations.

“It was due to our stir that poor people are now coming forward to demand land. The stir also forced authorities to find land for the landless.

“Earlier, the authorities never bothered to look whether the land is available to be distributed among landless. Now, the situation has changed,” she said.

After the Muthanga episode, Kerala witnessed numerous land stirs by various organizations. These stirs did not remain confined to tribals as landless poor across communities also started demanding land.

Activists of Bhoo Samara Samithi (Land Agitation Committee) led by Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) Jan 25, 2008 encroached land at Meppadi in Wayanad.

“I welcome these agitations. It was the agitation by the AGMS that helped to bring the plight of the landless into focus,” Janu said.

She also claimed that with the Muthanga stir the CPI -M (Communist Party of India - Marxist) “which considered tribals as the foot soldiers for their agriculture labor union was forced to take a different view with regard to tribals.”

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