People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 41

October 11, 2009

Historic Human Chain In Kerala

A cross section of the human chain at Kasaragod;  CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, S R Pillai is also seen in the picture 

                                                          Prabha Varma


DESPITE heavy downpour, lakhs of people formed a human chain on 2 October, the Gandhi Jayanthi day as a mark of protest against the ASEAN free trade agreement, which would play havoc on Kerala's economy.


At the call of the state committee of the CPI(M), people from different walks of life joined the human chain, the extent of which was 802 kilometres from Kasaragod to Trivandrum. The protest was so overwhelming that the human chain turned into virtual human wall, needless to mention that in the place of a single chain, numerous chains were formed through out the length and breadth of Kerala.


The mammoth gathering was marked by the inimitable organisational strength of the CPI(M) and the confidence that the people of Kerala reposed in it. It was quite evident that the people see CPI(M) as the only organisation that can carry forward their aspirations and the only force that relentlessly fights for rescuing them from the clutches of the aggressive neo-colonialism in the present era of globalisation.


The awareness was such that people had come forward voluntarily through out the state to join the protest, braving the inclement weather. As ASEAN agreement directly hits marine products, spices, coconut etc, people belonging to those sectors converged in the human chain in large numbers, realising the imminent danger that confronts day-to-day life.


The chain started with S Ramachandran Pillai as the first link at Kasaragod and ended with Prakash Karat as the last link in front of the Raj Bhavan in Trivandrum. The participation of women, eminent personalities, social activists, cultural leaders, peasants and workers, and people from different hues was enthusing.


The human chain began with a mammoth rally which was inaugurated by Prakash Karat. Pinarayi Vijayan presided over the meeting. V S Achuthanandan delivered the key note address.


The wide spread anguish over the ASEAN agreement was expressed in such unequivocal terms to warn the central government that any step towards the implementation of the same would be dealt with strong protests.   


The people had also taken a pledge on the occasion that the implementation of the agreement would be resisted even at the cost of their lives. They pledged that they would resist the attempts of the UPA government to impose a neo-colonial agenda on the state and protect  the state's interest from the onslaughts of the detrimental policies of the centre.


The whole thing began with the observance of two minutes silence as a mark of respect to those who had lost their lives in the Thekkadi boat accident. Idukki district, where Thekkadi is located was exempted from the human chain, to share the deep sorrow of the bereaved.


A number of link chains connecting various other parts of Kerala to the main human chain that spread through the length of national highway also were marked by great vigour and enthusiasm. Altogether, 50 lakhs of people, transcending the barriers of various differences converged in the human chain, to create history in the annals of people's mobilisation in the state. It surpassed even the historical human chain that was formed 22 years back in Kerala itself.


One of the significant factors of the chain was that the fisher folk, plantation labourers, and traditional workers had come out in lakhs and lakhs to voice their protest against the agreement which would cripple there livelihood, that is already in doldrums.


As the agreement would inflict a death blow to agriculture sector, peasants and workers had participated in this protest, bringing with them their agricultural produce and implements. Priests belonging to Christian community and Muslim community also had come out in large numbers in their traditional attire, to participate in the protest.


Presence of  Prabhath Patnaik, vice chairman, Planning Board, Ninan Koshi, expert in international affairs, T V Chandran, award winning film director, V R Krishna Iyer, former judge, Supreme Court, B Iqbal, former vice chancellor, Kerala University, P Vatsala, renowned novelist, Shaji N Karun, noted film director, M K Sanu, literary critic, Neena Prasad, danseuse and many other eminent personalities brought colour and grandeur to the campaign.


Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, home minister, Vaikkom Viswan, convener of LDF, various ministers, trade union leaders, youth leaders and student leaders participated in the movement at various points.


Greeting the human chain, Sukumar Azheekodu, prominent social critic said in a message that "the chain denotes the convergence of human minds to defeat a black agreement".


Justice V R Krishna Iyer addressed the gathering at Vyttila, Kochi and said that "the people of India, as earlier, would resist and defeat all forms of invasion. He also said that people should remain vigilant against those who try to subserve the interests of the imperialists.


Addressing the huge rally before the Raj Bhavan, Prakash Karat said that the significance of the chain is not confined to Kerala alone, but is to be construed as a warning of the entire people of India against the onslaughts of the policies of the UPA government. He also said that the protest would continue till the agreement is dumped in Arabian Sea.


The central government has flouted the federal structure of the constitution by not having any prior discussion with the states, which would be adversely affected by the ASEAN agreement. The matter was not discussed even in the parliament, he further said.


Pinarayi Vijayan, state secretary of CPI(M) said that such imports in lieu of the ASEAN agreement would not be allowed to be implemented anywhere in the state. Pinarayi also said that the prime minister, inspite of his assurance to the chief minister that he would discuss the various aspects of the agreement in relation to the state of Kerala prior to the signing, did not keep his word. It was also promised that a cabinet subcommittee would look into the various aspects relating to Kerala, but that also did not happen, since the committee so formed did not care to meet even once. Therefore it is imperative that people should unite to further resist the atrocious move of the center.


Addressing the participants, the chief minister V S Achuthanandan said "if this voice is not heard, the people would be forced to devise various other forms of protest." The agreement amounts to an insult to the pride of the state and will be dealt with firmly.


S Ramachandran Pillai said at Kasaragod that in view of the large participation of the people of Kerala, the center should refrain from such acts, which are detrimental to the social fabric of Kerala. The efforts to build up a joint movement would be furthered, he said. He also said that the protest of Keralites and the enlightened others, who are adversely affected by the agreement cannot be subdued by virulent slander, let loose by the vested interests.


The state secretariat of the CPI(M) greeted the people of the Kerala for having made the protest chain a historic success. This is indeed a beginning which would gather momentum, if the agreement is further pursued, it said in a statement.