In January 2004, Vineetha Kotayi was about to be burnt to death by CPI(M) workers. Because she told a television channel that from 1993, the CPI(M)-backed farmers’ union had been stopping people from working on her fields.
The reason: her father P.P. Krishnan, a member of the undivided Communist Party of India, sacked a farmhand, Narayani, for allegedly encroaching on his land.
Two decades later, a fast-track court in Kozhikode sentenced three CPI(M) followers to four years’ rigorous imprisonment for the assault on her. The three accused are CPI(M) former branch secretary E.C. Balan, his wife Narayani and aide Mohanan. Kotayi said after hearing the verdict: “It is a lesson for those who encouraged criminal elements.”
After Kotayi’s father sacked Narayani, the Kerala State Karshaka Thozilali Union ordered that no worker would set foot on his land till Narayani was taken back.
Inviting much criticism , the party was desperate to broker peace, but it could not do much, as it turned into a “prestige issue” for CPI(M) veteran T. Kanaran, who had complete control over Balan and his band.
But after Kanaran’s death, the party was quick to extend an olive branch to the widow, who was in extreme poverty despite owning huge tract of land. The party expelled the workers who troubled her. But she and her two sons were still attacked several times.