Red Flag Hoisted on Satyam’s Lands
The Satyam scam has exposed corporate corruption and greed, protected by Governments and even ‘watchdog’ institutions. Among the many aspects of the scam was the aspect of massive benami land transfers effected by Satyam. It became apparent that thousands of acres of land were acquired by Satyam – literally by hook or crook.
Land is a burning issue – in Andhra Pradesh as well as all over India. Land ceiling laws and laws against land grab have been openly violated, and the state has an abysmal track record of implementing land reforms. Governments, mouthing virtuous slogans of ‘development,’ have justified massive land grab to feed corporate greed. In AP, too, there have been fierce struggle against SEZs and other kinds of corporate land grab. Also, AP has seen militant struggles confronting the YSR Reddy Government on why it failed to keep its promise of house sites for the poor.
Now, the question arises, why rural poor are met with bullets (as at Mudigonda, Khammam) when they raise a legitimate demand for land; why anti-SEZ activists (as at Kakinada) are jailed; why, when the rural poor wage struggles to occupy ceiling-surplus and other kinds of land illegally grabbed from the poor, they are branded as ‘terrorists’; yet Ramalinga Rau and Satyam-Maytas were freely allowed to grab thousands of acres of land illegally – and both the previous NDA Government of Chandrababu Naidu as well as the present Congress Government of YSR Reddy turned a blind eye for so many years?
The CPI(ML), which has been at the forefront of land struggles in AP, acted promptly to corner the Government on this question as soon as the Satyam scam came to light. In Krishna district, the CPI(ML) Liberation and All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) unit of Andhra Pradesh conducted an investigation which revealed that the Prapurna Estate, an agricultural firm, is a benami company of Satyam computers located in Kondaparva village of Vissannapeta mandal in Krishna district. The Prapurna Estate holds about 375 acres of land out which 232 acres was purchased from small peasants. 44 acres was purchased illegally from poor Dalits allotted land by the State government. Moreover hundred acres of revenue bungar lands have been illegally captured by this firm. An application to the government to lease this land to develop a medicinal plants farm was rejected by the District Collector a year back.
CPI(ML) and AIALA activists decided to mobilise masses of six villages to seize the Prapurna Estate lands illegally in control of Satyam-Maytas. On February 13, hundreds of people from Vissannapeta, Kondaparva, Jannardhanavaram and Chatrai village, (led by CPI(ML) District Secretary Comrade D Harinath and AIALA State President Comrade Pulla Rao), marched to the lands held by Satyam carrying red flags and entered the Prapurna Estates. They successfully managed to occupy some 250 acres of lands illegally acquired by Satyam. Initially the employees of Prapurna Estate tried to put up a resistance but were soon overwhelmed by the militant mood of the masses. Attempts by the police to chase away the people were in vain. Prapurna Estate employees and the police claimed that these lands were legally purchased by some person of West Godavari district to develop as an agricultural farm. Revenue officials also said to the media that these lands are legally purchased but not owned in any way by Satyam. The police, though hesitant to arrest the activists, has been open in its defence of the Prapurna Estate.
The CPI(ML) has demanded that the State should confiscate the lands from Satyam and redistribute them among the poor. The struggle brought to the fore the question of Government double standards over the question of land: its complicity with the bid by the rich and the corrupt to grab (and literally steal) land over which they have no right, and its repressive attitude towards the struggles of the poor for land which legitimately belong to them.