TAMIL NADU: CPI(M) Plans for a Padayatra “My land – My Right”

V B Ganesan

SINCE May 22 which has become a black day for the people of Tamil Nadu, following  the brutal killing of 13 innocent protestors against the “all powerful” Sterlite Industries, a unit of Vedanta Group, the state police has started defending its ‘stooge behaviour’ across the state. It has unleashed a reign of terror among the people of Tuticorin through a series of raids and arrests upon the people, completely disregarding the rule of law along the way.

When the CPI(M) had planned to organise a protest meeting against the police massacre, permission was denied to organise it. It had to obtain permission from the Madurai bench of Madras High Court amid threats from top police officials who tried every trick of their trade to deny permission even from the court. However, the Party was able to secure permission albeit some restrictions and conducted the meeting where Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of CPI(M), lambasted the state and the central governments for its failure to adhere to the rule of law. Even after this, the police put up a case against the district secretary Arjunan for conducting the meeting with more than 1,000 persons as allowed by the Court. This is nothing but sheer vengeance on the part of the government for raising voice in defence of the people.

The Tamil Nadu police have now started extending its strong arm tactics upon the people who are protesting against various anti-people projects of the state government such as the eight-lane green highway connecting Chennai and Salem. As reported earlier in this column, unheeding the existing law on land acquisition, the state police is preventing any dissent to the project. When the AIKS called for hoisting black flags atop the homes and lands on June 26 in the four districts likely to be affected through this project, namely Tiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Salem, the state police tried to suppress this simple gesture by unleashing terror in the villages. On June 26, when Dillibabu, ex-MLA and a senior kisan leader in the state (he is also the general secretary of Tamil Nadu Hill People’s Association) was discussing with the peasants about the future course of action in a restaurant at Chengam near Tiruvannamalai, the local DSP stormed into the restaurant and hurled abuses at him, unmindful of his public stature. The police even manhandled him.

On the other side, across the state, the police is refusing permission to conduct protest rallies and public meetings against these atrocities. Simply disregarding the fundamental rights given to the people of this country, the police is threatening every such applicant for the holding of rallies. Some of the political parties were compelled to approach the High Court, as done by the CPI(M),  to conduct their protest meetings.

The police realising the utter weakness of the ruling establishment took upon itself the task of carrying out the diktats of big business, which can be clearly established from the incidents that took place across the state. Even old women were not spared and were arrested by the police including a large number of peasants.

In this background, the CPI(M) state committee in its meeting held on July 10-11 at Chennai has decided to organise a padayatra from Tiruvannamalai to Salem led by the state secretary K Balakrishnan. This padayatra with the slogan “My Land – My Right” will begin on August 1,   from Tiruvannamalai to highlight the plight of the people against the lacklustre attitude of the state government in protecting the rights of the state and its people on various burning issues.

Highlighting the vehement denial of fundamental rights of the people by the state police, the state committee has also decided to conduct street corner meetings in more than 1,000 centres in the state as well as to organise a state level conference at Chennai in defence of freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution of India.




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