A 60-year-old woman "evicted" from a small island near here to make way for a road project has jumped into the poll fray to highlight hardships faced by those forcibly shunted out in the name of development.
Mary Francis, who was allegedly forcibly evicted from her property last year, is contesting as an independent from Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency, demanding that "development should have a human face."
However, she will have to battle all odds as she is pitted against Prof K V Thomas of Congress-led UDF and Sindhu Joy of CPI(M) led LDF.
Hailing from the tiny island of Moolampilly near Kochi, Francis says she has heard of the suffering of evictees from Narmada Valley and Nandigram and could "identify with their pain" when she and her family were forcibly evicted from nine cents of land in February 2008, along with 10 other families.
"Overnight we became homeless", she says. Her family now stays at a rented house after shifting from a makeshift tent.
Her family had about 10 cents land in which her son had a workshop... His livelihood. Her husband is a worker. Their land was acquired by the government to provide road connectivity to the Rs 2,500 crore International Container Transhipment Terminal project at nearby Vallarpadam.
Her demands are clear - amendment and modification of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to include rehabilitation and resettlement as a mandatory clause. The law allows acquiring houses and properties of citizens for a public purpose. "This is a colonial law," she says.