The standoff between the forestry department and a section of settler farmers in Thamarassery over the authorities’ alleged failure to control the wildlife threat escalated with the latest dispute over the sanction of compensation for Rasheed Alakkunnathu, a 45-year-old driver turned farmer, who was killed in an accident believed to have been caused by wild boars.
Farmers’ organizations alleged that the department was responsible for denying treatment assistance to the man while he was undergoing treatment at Kozhikode Medical College Hospital.
It was on October 6 that Rasheed and members of his family were victims of the accident. Although the others escaped with minor injuries, Rasheed, who was driving the rickshaw, was seriously injured. He had been on treatment for almost two months.
Farmers who demonstrated outside the Thamarassery forest office on Saturday carrying the victim’s body said forest officials were not inclined to submit a report in favor of the man to enable him to obtain a reasonable compensation. “Instead, the report was filed with higher authorities indicating that the accident was not caused by a wild animal. This then led to the denial of treatment assistance in Rasheed, ”they said.
A joint action council of farmers in Thamarassery has called for the suspension of officials believed to be behind the denial of treatment aid. According to them, it was like “culpable homicide”, and that the officials responsible for the misconduct should be punished. They also warned against unleashing indefinite agitation if the authorities were lax in initiating disciplinary measures.
We Farm, a colonial farmers’ organization, also threatened to start an indefinite unrest outside the Thamarassery Forestry Officer’s house from December 11.
Meanwhile, Forest officials said they would take a considerate approach to ensure compensation for the victim’s family. “In addition to having discussions with the protesting organizations, we will make efforts for the rapid processing of the compensation claim,” they said.