Stiff resistance to eviction in Kerala

Dramatic scenes unfolded here when a group of people resisted attempts by the police and Revenue officials to evict a woman and her family from their property in Pathadipalam, near Kalamassery, on Monday.

The events unfolded around 10 a.m. when the authorities, armed with a court order, reached the spot to evict the family. The protesters stopped them from initiating proceedings, threatening to immolate themselves. Soon, a Fire & Rescue Services team was called in which sprayed water on the mob. The action, however, provoked the protesters who then clashed with the police. The police resorted to a minor lathi-charge.

A middle-aged woman, Ammini, sustained a head injury during the clash.

The protesters, carrying kerosene and petrol cans, had begun assembling at the spot in large numbers from Sunday midnight.

As the clash intensified, a few protesters attempted to set a car on fire. Swift intervention by the Fire and Rescue Services, which sprayed water on the car, averted any untoward incident. As all attempts to placate the protesters came to a naught, the authorities soon retreated and the eviction plan was put off.

History of case

Revenue officials said any further action on the issue would be taken after a discussion between the aggrieved party and the Ernakulam District Collector.

The family of Preetha has been facing eviction over default of payment of a loan by one of her relatives. Shaji, her husband, stood as guarantor to one Sajan for a loan of Rs. 2 lakh by mortgaging his property of over 22 cents of land at Pathadipalam in 1994. However, Sajan defaulted on the loan and the now defunct Lord Krishna bank served notice on Shaji to repay the loan.

Lord Krishna Bank was later amalgamated with Centurion Bank, which in turn, amalgamated with HDFC Bank. When the dues crossed Rs. 10 lakh, the bank approached the Debt Recovery Tribunal in 2005 and the mortgaged property was put up for sale.

The property was then sold through e-auction to M.N. Ratheesh, who later moved the court seeking police protection to evict the family and obtained a favourable order.

An official statement issued by HDFC Bank later clarified that the institution followed the due legal process throughout. “It is an old case (1999) where the buyer has been fighting to take what is a lawful possession of the parcel of land which he bought in an e-auction conducted by the Debt Recovery Tribunal in 2014. The buyer (auction purchaser) then approached the Kerala High Court for help. The bank’s endeavour has been to facilitate a solution,” it said.

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