Kinalur: A new anti-people ‘development’ in Kerala

By Staff Correspondent,

Kozhikode: The people of Kinalur are afraid. They now do not go out of their homes. Police vehicles always roam about in the small village in Kozhikode district. Nobody knows what will happen in the next moment. And all live in constant fear of what may happen.

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The village of Kinalur hit the headlines when the local people clashed with the police on Thursday (May 6). The police had come to the village with officials for a survey of the land for the purpose of constructing a 30-metre wide road connecting Kinalur with Malikkadavu. The local people of the village opposed the road as their homes and lands would be lost. The government has not reportedly got ready to provide enough compensation also. The people – young and old, men and women – marched in a demonstration and clashed with the police. The police broke tear gas shells and threw grenades. People pelted stones at the police and poured cow-dung water on the policemen. The angered police then beat up everybody including women and children. Police went to several houses to catch hold of the ‘violent’ protestors. Many policemen were injured and admitted to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. Many local people also were gravely injured but reportedly did not get admitted to any hospitals as they were afraid of being arrested by the police.

Bone of contention

The proposal for a good road connecting Kinalur with Kozhikode came up when the government held talks with some foreign companies for the industrial development of the area. Since there was good road up to Malikkadavu, a good road needed to be built connecting Kinalur and Malikkadavu. The government signed an agreement with a Malaysian company for the ‘Satellite City Project’ in Kinalur but was later scrapped (because of the poor road conditions, said Industries Minister). However, the land mafia began to buy the land in and around Kinalur and the price of land went up very high. The road construction plans also went on. But, as of the latest reports, only a shoe company is coming in the place.

The people have made it clear that they were not against development but they opposed the current plan for road construction which would require the eviction of many houses and farmlands. They have also reportedly presented another plan for the road construction, which the government has not accepted. The government maintains that everything is for the industrial development of the area, but has not got ready to explain which all development projects were coming up there.

Vague development projects

Human rights activists in the state yesterday asked the government to clarify the vagueness regarding the construction of the proposed four-lane road between Kinalur and Malikkadavu. The government should immediately take measures to relieve the people of fear. The Industries Minister is trying to help the land mafia in the area. Road construction is possible even without evicting any, still the government is going forward with the eviction plan. The protestors under the banner of ‘Samarasamithi’ (meaning ‘protest committee’) had made it clear earlier itself that they would not cooperate with the land survey. Police had reached the place long before the officers for survey came. Clash took place when the police used force against the people who were picketing the road. The police were attacking the protestors according to a plan, the human rights activists accused. Adv PA Pouran, Gro Vasu, VP Suhra, Moin Bappu, Adv Thushar Nirmal Sarathy etc were present at the press conference called by rights activists.

What happened in Kinalur is a clear example of the misuse of power, opined major socio-cultural leaders in the state. The government should immediately take action to ensure peaceful living in the area. The Industries Minister and the district Collector should understand the fact that development is not something to help big businessmen, selfish politicians and officials amass profit by seizing people’s lands and destroying the nature. Peace can be restored in Kinalur only when the unnecessary cases against the people are withdrawn and facilities are made for them to return to their homes, they said. Sara Joseph, KG Sankarappilla, BRP Bhaskar, O Abdurahman, Balachandran Vadakkedath, CV Balakrishnan, CR Neelakandan, Chemmanam Chacko, J Devika, Babu Bharadwaj, Ajitha, Prof P Geetha, P Mujeeb Rahman, Adv Azad etc signed the statement.

Protest linked to Muslim terrorism

The Industries Minister is trying to insult the whole community, accused Muslim League general secretary PK Kunhalikkutty, against the minister’s statement that Muslim religious terrorists were behind the problems in Kinalur. The card of terrorism won’t be sold in Kerala. The CPI (M) is keeping together the Jamat e Islami and Solidarity and at the same time, is accusing them of terrorism also. This shows the real nature of the party. He also asked how the protest against a road would become terrorism. The Solidarity Youth Movement and the Popular Front of India had sided with and supported the protestors. The organizations also took part in the protest against the survey along with the other political parties such as the Congress, Muslim League, BJP etc. Earlier, Mr Mullappally Ramachandran, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, said that the centre had not received any intelligence report stating that religious terrorists were behind the controversy over the Kinalur road issue. He also asked for a detailed inquiry into the incident.

The state Industries Minister’s accusations of the involvement of religious terrorists bore no fruits as the opposition UDF decided to take up strong protest measures on the issue. Attempts are on to change the minds of people from the protest, according to reports. Some local leaders of the CPI (M) had reportedly approached certain activists of the Muslim League, persuading them to withdraw from the protest. They also reportedly said that only Solidarity activists were being chased. However, the Muslim League last day made it clear that all people were together in the protest. Opposition leader Oommen Chandy last day compared the police action in Kinalur to those in Nandigram and Singur. He accused that the statements made by the minister and the Collector were contradictory. The minister said that problems were made by people who came from outside. But the police have registered cases against 150 local people. When the minister said there was no specific plan regarding those evicted, the Collector maintains that there was a specific plan for them.

None ready to listen to victims

In another development, the state Women’s Commission has refused to take any action suo moto on the incident in which several women were brutally beaten up by the police. The Commission’s president JS D Sreedevi reportedly said that the protestors were inviting beat and that the commission would not interfere in the matter as it was purely political. She also reportedly asked why women went there and why people should protest against the construction of a road. However, the Mahila Congress has decided to approach the National Women’s Commission in the issue. President Shanimol Usman criticized the state Women’s Commission’s inaction on the issue and said that many women were too afraid of the police to even get admitted in hospital despite having been injured.

Judicial inquiry should be carried out on the land scam in Kinalur in the guise of development as well the police brutality against the protestors including women and children, demanded the ‘NH 17 Samyuktha Samarasamithi’ in Ernakulam. Media persons have clearly brought out the police brutality in Kinalur. Truth can be revealed only through a judicial probe and not a probe by the attackers themselves, the committee said.

The small village of Kinalur has now become the topic of heated debates and discussions in the state. Problems associated with development projects and acquisition of land still continue in Kerala. People are not against development but they need good compensation for giving up their lands and houses. And that is what the authorities fail to provide.