Rally for Right to Resources in Kerala

Vibhava Avakasha Jatha – The journey from Trivandrum to Kottayam
March 4 - 8, 2008, Jana Munettam

In Kerala, Dalits, Adivasis, women, fishing communities, unorganized workers and other marginalized are being suppressed and pushed into extreme forms of deprivation and daily humiliation. Systematically keeping aside the dalits and adivasis, resources that should be equitably shared are being enjoyed and controlled only by some communities. This kind of monopoly and control cannot be tolerated in a democratic state.

Land, water, forest and political power has been usurped by upper caste communities and it can be seen clearly that 75% of the landless in Kerala state are dalits and adivasis. This also establishes that control over resources is most definitely caste - based. Upper caste community collective thinking and political designing is what has resulted in this deprivation of land for the dalits/adivasis and establishing of ownership by the upper castes. The historical land reforms and other progressive policies of kerala state has not yielded any justice to the dalits and adivasis and has only tried to sideline them with 3 and 5 cents of land.

The result has been the 12,500 dalit colonies that have emerged and into which dalit communities have been trapped. Adivasis have been pushed out of their rightful forests and are forced into adivasi colonies. These caste based monopolies have converted land into a commercial enterprise for profit only and have extracted all productive value from it while depriving marginalized communities of their livelihood and dignity. Further, in the name of lease agreements, national/ international capitalist monopolies have been allowed to control land in the state. These trends have put the whole state of Kerala in crisis.

The right of the marginalized to stay and work on their land is what has been taken away. At the same time, all these monopolies have control over lakhs of hectares of land illegally. History shows that this monopoly has resulted only in more profits for themselves and not for the state’s development. For 90 to 100 years this injustice has gone on and all governments in Kerala have helped and supported these monopolies through its policies. In 2010, 75% of all plantation lease agreements are expiring. This information has been denied to the people and there are moves by the government to re -lease the land again to the monopolies.

The Vibhava Avakasha Jatha of Jana Munnettam calls out to all marginalized to come together and demand their rights over land. Only through this right over land can the dalits and adivasis and other marginalized communities move towards other social interventions. As our great leaders, Ayyankali, Appachan, Pambadi John Joseph, and Kandan Kumaran have strongly advocated - the first step to progress is land ownership.

Jana Munettam is a state level collective of all marginalized communities in kerala who have been deprived of democratic rights, social justice, political power and resources. It is a collective of marginalized to fight for social justice and equity through democratic means.

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