CPM dumps own workers to help mining lobby

via Pioneer News Service | Kannur published on May 14, 2008

After receiving much criticism for its anti-farmer stand in the struggles of Erayamakudi and Muriyad fields in Thrissur district, the CPI(M) is being attacked for its apathy towards the problems being faced by farmers in the Vayalkkara fields of Cherupuzha in Kannur.

Like in the cases of Erayamkudi and Muriyad, where the CPI(M) was accused of taking a stand favourable to the clay-mining lobby, the agitators who are on a battle-to-end agitation in Cherupuzha allege that the party is supporting the clay-miners who were turning their fields into water-logged pits.

If the CPI(M) was allegedly acting against agitators who belonged to other parties or rights groups in Thrissur, the war in Vayalkkara is between the party and its grassroots workers. The farmers and farm workers who are leading the farmland protection agitation at Vayalkkara say that the party has betrayed them.

The party does not cooperate with the agitators and at the same time is attacking them also through party organ Desabhimani daily, they complain. Most of the agitators who had been arrested during the struggle the other day were CPI(M) workers, but the leaders allegedly did not care to intervene in the matter. Apart from this, Desabhimani published a report attacking the agitators, they say.

Though the CPI(M) has taken an apathetic stand in the matter, most of the other political parties have declared support for the struggle just like in the case of the Erayamudi and Muriyad agitations.

However, the agitators have vowed not to withdraw from the struggle even if it meant that they would have to lose lives. A participant in the agitation, who is also a CPI(M) worker, said that they had started the stir with the hopes of getting party support but they were not concerned about it much.

“I have been working in the party for the past 35 years. My husband and sons are CPI(M) workers. Almost all those participating in the struggle against the lobby are CPI(M) workers. But somehow the party seems to be determined to sacrifice our support to protect the mining lobby. If the party wants it that way, we have no problem. But we will not end this stir until the last sand-miner leaves this area,” said she.

She also said that the farmers had cultivated the land last year with the help of Kudumbasree, but in the current season nobody came forward with help. “Things have reached an explosive stage now. Clay mining is going on without interruption despite the opposition from all of us. The panchayath council can stop this injustice in a day if it decides to take action. But they (the panchayath members) have not even visited these fields since we launched the agitation,” said another CPI(M) worker.

The farmers said that their fields had been rendered useless as the deep pits dug by miners remained water-logged. As the farmland was getting deeper and deeper, the wells in the locality, the sources of water for the villagers, have all been dried up. Villagers also said that as the pits were full of stagnant waters, mosquitoes were breeding in hem posing a huge health hazard for the villagers.

A leader of the Erayamkudi farmers’ agitations said that there was no surprise in the CPI(M) approach to the farmers’ and farm-workers’ struggle at Vayalkkara as the party did not stand for the farmers or the working class anymore.

“What do you think the party is more concerned about right now? They speak of brining in new law to protect farmlands on the one hand while on the other they sanctify sale of paddy fields to real estate giants. It is plain hypocrisy. This hypocrisy had come out in the cruelest form in Erayamkudi and now the CPI(M) workers themselves are coming face to face with it in Vayalkkara,” he said.

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