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Three-decade-old struggle by Dalits to retrieve land continues

D.Karthikeyan


Members of VCK have planned fast unto death from today

Chief Minister urged to intervene and retrieve the land


MADURAI: It has been more than three decades since the land originally meant for Adi Dravidars of Vandiyur Theerthakadu village were encroached by caste Hindus. The Madras High Court has twice ordered the eviction of encroachments and relocation of Dalits in the identified lands.

The 349 Dalit families, who were living on the Vaigai riverbed, were allotted 9. 73 acres of land (Old Survey No 260/2A, 260/2B New Survey No.112/2A, 2B) by the Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Welfare Department on March, 3, 1979. The families were handed over pattas on December 12, 1995.

However, the land was encroached by caste Hindus and even after a series of protests, dharnas and petitions by Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and other Dalit organisations, the encroachments were not removed. The encroachers, meanwhile, formed a residents' welfare association (RWA) and thwarted all attempts made by the Dalits to make the administration remove their encroachments. Members of VCK filed a writ petition in the High Court, which, on October, 30, 2008, ordered the removal of encroachments within six months and locate the Dalits in Vandiyur.

The Revenue Divisional Officer's report following the court direction says that only 11 pattas were purchased from Adi Dravidars and houses were built on them and kept under occupation. However, 231 houses were built without pattas and occupied by way of encroachment and the total extent of land occupied by persons other than Adi Dravidars is 3.03 acres. In the absence of any action to remove the encroachments, the RWA went on appeal in the Madras High Court. On October 22, 2010, the High Court ordered the district administration to relocate the encroachers in the 3.87 hectares of land identified by them at Sakkimangalam and if they refused to move evict them in accordance with law. The Principal Secretary and Special Commissioner, Land Administration, were also issued copies of the order.

VCK has been organising various protests at many places and also in front of the Collectorate but there is no appropriate action from the administration. Party president and Member of Parliament Thol. Thirumavalavan wrote a letter to the District Collector citing the details of the court proceedings and requested him to take necessary action.

Members of VCK organised a protest on January 10 in front of the Collectorate demanding the removal of encroachments. In continuation of their protests, they have planned to organise a fast unto death from Thursday. A. Muthamizh Pandian, rural district treasurer and coordinator of Vandiyur Theerthakadu Land Retrieval Struggle Committee, said that Dalits had been denied their fundamental right to have a decent living. He said that Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi should intervene and retrieve the land meant for Dalits.

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