People of Kerala added another glorious chapter in the Movement against disastrous K-RAIL project. It is not often that people from all over the state, cutting across all socio-political differences, organize themselves irrespective of banners of any political parties against a project that is touted by the state government. Yet, that is what happened on 24 March 2022, when the Samsthana K-Rail Silver Line Virudha Janakeeya Samithi (People’s Committee Against K-Rail Silver Line) organized a massive gathering in front of the State Secretariat.Thousands of people including children who would be evicted from their homes and hearth and would lose livelihood marched through its streets. They made their protests heard by the CPI(M)-led LDF government who still remains adamant to carry on the project ignoring the colossal loss it would entail in the lives of thousands of people. The display of remarkable solidarity was magnificent.
The mass gathering was inaugurated by Medha Patkar, eminent environmental and social activist who has been steadfastly supporting the movement. In her inaugural address, Ms Patkar said that ‘the protest against the project was a battle to save not only Kerala, its natural resources, and more than 20,000 families, but also the country from the high – speed development paradigm.’ Shashikant Sonawane, the leader of the protest movement against the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project pointed at the double standard of the CPI(M) leadership when he said that while it is against the Maharashtra project, it is bent upon implementing a similar project in Kerala.
The mass gathering marked the culmination of an almost month-long activities organised by the Samithi. It began with a procession led by Chairman, M.V. Baburaj and General Convenor S. Rajeevan, which started from Kasargod on 1 March, passed through all areas that has been marked for acquisition for the project and finally terminated at Thiruvananthapuram on 23 March. The procession was received by the local units of the committee at more than hundred venues across 11 districts of the state. While the CPI (M)-led government has been blind to the plight of the people and is moving ahead with the project, many leftist workers and supporters at the local levels, who are also victims have stood shoulders to shoulders with other members of the committee in fighting against the project. Like any other bourgeois government, the CPI (M) government also sought to malign the movement by branding the protesters as ‘terrorists’, ‘Maoists’, ‘foreign agents’ and ‘agents of imperialism’. The CPI (M)-led government has also indiscriminately used the police to not only arrest the protesters including women, but also to install survey stones in their premises. Yet, the movement has only continued to grow within the social and political consciousness of Kerala. The mass gathering was a proof of this as those assembled included men and women who had been brutally set upon and arrested by the police, but has only resolved to take their struggle to greater heights. A street drama titled ‘A Silver Line Disaster’, and the music troupe which accompanied the procession evoked great response from the public.
The mass gathering was presided over by M.V. Baburaj, Chairman of the Samithi. S. Rajeevan, General Convenor delivered the welcome address. Comrade Jaison Joseph, Central Committee member, SUCI (C) addressed the gathering on behalf of the Party. Under pressure of the movement, the CPI (M) government declared next day that due to strong protests, land acquisition process is temporarily suspended.