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KERALA

Abandoned by party, CPM’s poster family caught in debt trap

Wednesday 19 April 2006, by PI*Rajeev

KAYYUR, APRIL 18 : ??The party that my brother and Appu died for is no more. I am not even a communist anymore.’’

When octogenarian Koyithattil Paru says that in Kayyur, it resonates way beyond the borders of this chronically underdeveloped village whose only bright spots are the red flags, party posters and bus stops and street junctions named after Communist heroes.

Because Kayyur is where one of the first Communist peasant rebellions happened, and the British hanged four of its young men for it.

Paru was the wife of Madathil Appu, the first accused in the Kayyur uprising who courted the noose on March 29, 1943. Hanged with him was Chirukandan, Paru’s elder brother, and two others-Kunhambu Nair and Abu Backer. History says the Kayyur rebellion had much to do with the village’s oppressed peasantry being pushed relentlessly into debt traps by the landowners, who tormented them in other ways too with the help of the police.

Sixty three years later, Paru is in a similar debt trap, having lost nearly all she had to loan sharks. The party, meanwhile, built a Rs 1 crore memorial for Appu, Chirukandan and other Kayyur martyrs not far from where Paru lives in penury.

Paru had borrowed Rs 1,50,000 in 1999 from a local loan shark, unable to raise money to get her granddaughter married.

The loansharks began tormenting her when she could not raise money as fast as the interest on it rose. Eventually, they took over her land, and Paru got her son, a manual labourer, to pledge the only remaining piece of land the family owned and pay back Rs 1 lakh. But when that did not help and financiers threw her out of home, she approached the party for help.

The party did its mediation, and told her that it can’t be sorted out unless she raised Rs 3 lakh more and paid off the financiers. Meanwhile, Paru’s own daughter, tired of it all, hanged herself. The only time that she now comes face to face with her past is when the comrades observe the Kayyur memorial day, every March 29. Young comrades approach her too with donation receipts. They did that this year too. ??I pay them Rs 101 that I keep aside every year. I tell them that I am not giving it for the party that I no longer believe in, but for two young men who did long ago, and died for it,’’ she says.

See online : The Indian Express

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