Police terror: CPM charged with helping land mafia

via VR Jayaraj | Kozhikode published on May 10, 2010

Allegations are mounting against the Kerala CPI(M), especially its Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem, to the effect that the State police’s attack on protestors in Kinalur area of Kozhikode district last Thursday and the subsequent raids were part of a strategy to terrorize local people to agreeing to the construction of a road for safeguarding the personal interests of its leaders and associates.

Though Kareem has been trying hard to justify the police terror saying construction of a 30-metre wide four-lane road to the 270-acre Kinalur industrial area was inevitable for development, he himself has not been able to name even a single mega-project proposed to come up in the plot. The allegation is that the Minister had used the police force to get the people’s sanction for the road to enhance the value of about 3,000 acres of land certain CPI(M) leaders and their associates had reportedly acquired in Kinalur.

Even several senior CPI(M) leaders are accusing Kareem, a trusted lieutenant of State secretary and head of the party’s neo-liberalist faction Pinarayi Vijayan, of causing the biggest embarrassment for the organization as well as the LDF Government in its four-year-rule by making the police brutally attack those protesting against the plan for road construction.

At least 60 persons, including women and small children, had suffered injuries when the police unleashed terror with stones, batons, stun grenades and teargas as they were protesting against a survey for acquiring land for a 26-km four-lane road to the industrial estate where no known projects existed or were proposed. The police terror was still continuing in the villages in Kinalur area as they were on a hunt for 150 identifiable persons against whom cases for attempt to murder had been charged.

“Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan had withdrawn the survey team and the police immediately after the incident sensing the gravity of the situation,” said Muhammadkutty, a businessman in Kinalur. “But Kareem, a Minister under VS, is still trying to justify the police action. The feeling here is that Kareem is making such statements out of his frustration in not being able to fulfill the commitment he must have made to the land mafia,” he said.

Kareem had begun his efforts for a “world-class” road in March, 2008 saying that a Malaysian company would set up an “industrial satellite city” in association with the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation in the 270-acre plot. “But the MoU the KSIDC had signed with the Malaysian company had expired even before Kareem had started his efforts for the road,” Muhammadkutty said.

Even after the police action and the subsequent terror campaign, Kareem was not able to say what kind of an industrial project was going to come up in the plot. “Now he is putting forward a new industrial policy that projects could be thought of only after all the proper infrastructure facilities are in place,” said a local CPI(M) leader belonging to the Achuthanandan camp. “I wonder whether the LDF Government shares the same view on industrial development!” he said.

Meanwhile, the reluctance shown by the Kerala State Commission for Women to intervene in the Kinalur issue despite the fact that several women and children had been victims of police brutality has invited sharp criticisms. Commission chairperson D Sreedevi invited the wrath of women’s organizations by saying that the police had not attacked the women for nothing.

“Would the women have suffered injuries if they had not gone there? Why did they go there?” she asked a television channel. The LDF Government and the CPI(M) are yet to make a formal and categorical statement on the Kinalur issue but Sreedevi sounded quite certain that the people’s protests were politically motivated.

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