Three days after a farmer allegedly ended his life due to “harassment” by village officials in Kozhikode, Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) P H Kurien today visited the Village Administrative Office (VAO), where his body was found, and collected evidence. He checked the files related to the land of the deceased farmer, Kaavilpurayidathil Joy, who was found hanging outside the VAO on June 21, said an official release issued here. Kurien also examined the authenticity of the charges that the 57-year-old farmer had taken the extreme step due to harassment by the village officials who refused to accept the tax for his land for the last 18 months.
He directed that the cases similar to that of Joy’s pending before the land tribunal be considered and land tribunal adalats be organised at the panchayat level. He also directed the district collector to settle such cases without any delay, the release said. Kurien later chaired a review meeting of revenue officials at the collectorate. He also visited the kin of the deceased farmer and consoled them. Later, the senior revenue official told reporters that the preliminary probe pointed towards the failure of the officials in the issue. “The preliminary investigation hints at the failure of the officials. If it is proved, stringent action will be taken against them which may even include dismissal from service,” said Kurien.
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Earlier in the day, a group of activists of the Muslim Youth League, affiliated to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), staged a demonstration on the VAO premises, demanding compensation and a job for the next of kin of the deceased. In a related development, the police registered a case against one of the two suspended officials under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the IPC. The body of Joy was found hanging outside the VAO at Chembanod on the night of June 21. The farmer allegedly took the extreme step after the officials refused to accept the tax for the land owned by him.
District Collector U V Jose had subsequently suspended a village assistant and a village officer for “not accepting the land tax”.