Published: Monday 31 March 2008

The Kerala government filed an affidavit in the high court seeking to extend by three months the court's deadline to evict encroachers in Chengara in South Kerala. Landless people had forcibly occupied a rubber estate there. The court had asked the administration to remove the encroachers without using force. But the settlers are refusing to move out, threatening to commit mass suicide. More than 10,000 dalits and tribals moved to the plantations of Harrison Malyalam in August 2007, demanding the land the state government had promised them (see 'Grabbing their rights?' Down To Earth, February 29, 2008). Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan says "external elements" are inciting agitation. Recently, the state human rights commission sought a report from the government on the status of the people living in shanties in the estate.

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