The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naxalites press ahead with land liberation

Hyderabad, Oct. 25: Andhra Pradesh's Naxalites are going ahead with plans to transfer to the landless surplus land belonging to large farmers without waiting for the government to act.

They have opted not to wait for an October 30 cabinet approval of a government decision on the matter.

During the last week, the People's War, which recently merged with the Maoist Communist Centre to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist), has taken possession of 1,142 acres and given it to the landless in Prakasham and Kurnool districts.

Their modus operandi is simple: with their armed dalams keeping guard, the Naxalites plant red flags on land belonging to rich farmers. They then announce the names of those who will be allotted a share of the land.

Nobody dares to oppose them as previous protests have resulted in deaths.

The People's War occupied land even when they were banned, but did it more clandestinely.

The Naxalites have stepped up their land agitation since the ban was lifted on July 22 this year.

During recent peace talks with the Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy government, People's War leader Ramakrishna said the rebels had liberated nearly 120,000 acres from the clutches of landlords.

The land-grabbing is seen as an attempt to armtwist the government, which was undecided on the rebels' land demand during the peace talks.

'The People's War is doing sincerely what the government should have done,' Naxalite spokesman P. Varavara Rao said.

The Andhra government has taken serious note of the recent land occupations. Government officials and policemen yesterday visited the places occupied in Kurnool and Prakasham and removed the red flags and banners.

They also warned those who had benefited from the land grabbing of the perils of occupying land without relevant documents.

The government has also directed police in Kurnool to file criminal cases on the Naxalites' beneficiaries.

Kurnool district collector Vikas Raj said he had not been directed by the government to hand over the land to the beneficiaries indicated by the Naxalites.

Last Saturday, the Krishna patti dalam of the People's War stood guard as 250 acres were handed out to 75 farmers at Puttupalli village near Mahanandi in Kurnool district.

Weeks ago the organisation had, with the help of its Bhavanashi dalam, distributed 400 acres of forest and temple land in Shivapuri village's Kothapalli mandal.

In Guntur district, the People's War declared 2,005 acres including 600 acres of temple land as liberated and gave it away to landless people of their choice. In Karimnagar, where Maoists are strong, 10,000 acres were given away; 3,800 acres were handed out in Warangal district.

Revenue minister D. Prasada Rao has said the government is gearing up for land distribution.

'We are allocating over Rs 500 crore for development activities including land distribution to the landless. Any hasty action by the extremists will embroil the efforts in unnecessary litigation,' he said.

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