In 1963, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) government passed the Kerala Land Reforms Act. This Act abolished the centuriesold JanmiKudiyan system. The major objective of the land reform was to give "Land to the Tiller". The Kerala Land Reform Act, 1963, imposes certain restrictions on ownership and possession of landed properties in the State of Kerala, which is known as "ceiling". The surplus land, above the ceiling limit, is taken away by government to be redistributed to the landless laborers and small farmers. Through the land ceiling law, the government expected to gather large surplus land but many landlords circumvented the legal requirement through bogus transfers, gift deeds etc. Also, the state has large sums of land in its hold still not distributed to the landless people in the state. In 2001, the Adivasis in the state organized a month long struggle under the banner of the Adivasi Gotra Mahasabha led by C.K. Janu. They demanded that 45,000 landless Adivasi families should be provided five acres each of cultivable land. On September 27, 2006, the Chief Minister of Kerala, V.S. Achuthanandan, gave a written assurance to the protesters that the government would allot land to a sizeable number of landless families by 31 December 2006. However, this promises were not met. In January 2007, as reaction to the broken promise, the United Struggle Front of the poor for Liberation (Sadhujana Vimochana Samyuktha Vedi, SJVSV) started the first attempt to reclaim land. They chose an estate of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd. The struggle was led by the Dalit activist Laha Gopalan, a former government employee and a selfproclaimed Communist Party of India worker. This struggle was called off due to the assurance by the Kerala Government that it would look into their demands and do the needful. The Chengara Package was promised to the protesters in 2009 by the state of Kerala. As per the package, the 1,432 families out of a total of 1,738 were to get land and financial aid to construct house. However, a majority of them declined to accept the land, saying it not fit for habitation or farming. Only 78 families got habitable land and the remaining 1,417 families were left in the lurch.In 2011, the second phase of the Chengara Struggle started which continues till today. The protesters have still occupied the land in Chengara estate. However, the people are deprived of basic facilities inside the estate. As per a report dated January 2020, at least 3,500 people belonging to 573 landless families occupy the Chengara estate. The people still live in miserable conditons. Despite repeated pleas to the State Government issued by the State Human Rights Commission, Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and State SC/ST Commission, the people still do not have ration cards, voter identity cards, and house number.
Demand/Contention of the Affected Community
Demand for promised land, Demand for legal recognition of land rights
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Kerala State Revenue Department
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Chengara Estate, Harrison Malayalam Plantations
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
One Earth One Life, Sadhujana Vimochana Samyuktha Vedi, SJVSV, Laha Gopalan
Legislations Involved in the Conflict:
Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Land Ceiling Laws, Land Reform Laws
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Non-implementation of land-reform laws , Constitutional inconsistencies between state and Central land laws
Out of Court
Name(s) of Court(s)
Nature of Protest
Community-based participatory research, Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials , Development of a network or collective action , Land occupation
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Sexual violence/sexual harassment
Reported Details of the Violation:
In August 2008, an incident of torture and rape of four women was reported in Chengara. The accused were workers in the trade unions affiliated to political parties and hired henchmen. The women testified that the attacks had taken place in the presence of police who remained onlookers. There was no response from the state to redress the situation
Date of Violation
Location of Violation
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?