Farmer kills self in Kerala after officials refuse to accept his land tax payment

Joy’s death raises pertinent questions that can’t be swept under the carpet. But will those in the corridors of power sit up and take notice. Will they act now?

Published: 23rd June 2017 08:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd June 2017 08:21 AM   |  A+A-

Relatives and family members of Joy are inconsolable as his mortal remains are kept for paying homage in his home on Thursday

By Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: “Each file represents a life. Sometimes, a note or a query by an officer can decide the fate of the person whose life depends on the file,” said Pinarayi Vijayan on his first visit to the secretariat as Chief Minister, a year ago. The words rang true for Kavilpurayidam Veetil Joy of Chempanoda, Perambra. He committed suicide at the village office on Wednesday night after officers refused to accept his land tax and issue an encumbrance certificate for the 80 cents owned by his family for half a century. The farmer had been running from pillar to post to pay tax. But each time he was rebuffed saying the plot was ‘disputed land’.

Joy

Village officers had been alleging the plot was excess land (micha bhoomi), the victim’s elder brother Baby told Express. “Joy had been trying to pay land tax for several years. In June last year, he and his family conducted a sit-in before the village office. Officers were forced to accept tax for six months provisionally following the intervention of the Koyilandy tehsildar. They had promised to settle the issue soon. But they did not take further action. Every week, Joy used to visit the village office to get his papers cleared,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Joy had gone to the village office to pay tax as he needed the tax receipt for a bank loan to finance his daughter Amalu’s higher studies. He had made a similar attempt some time ago when he needed a tax receipt to obtain a loan of Rs 10 lakh for his second daughter’s wedding. But they refused to accept his payment, forcing him to arrange the amount from other sources. In the process, he fell deep into debt.

In April 2017, he had distributed a note to the village officers, saying he would take the extreme step if they failed to accept his land tax. “Then, the village officer called Joy’s wife, Moly, and ridiculed her,” Baby said. They also handed over the note to the Perambra police.
Moly said officers had also demanded bribes in return for the encumbrance certificate. The couple has three daughters - Anju, Ambili and Amalu.   

District Collector U V Jose directed Koyilandy tahsildar Remla to take steps to accept tax for Joy’s land on Thursday. He submitted a report on the issue to the government after visiting Joy’s relatives. He also convened a meeting of the tahsildar, village officer and others at the Collectorate to discuss the incident.

Chennithala demands homicide case against village officers

 T’Puram: Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala has demanded a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder be slapped against officers guilty of forcing Joy, a farmer, to end his life at the Chembanod village office on Wednesday night. He also asked the government to sanction adequate compensation for  the family of  the deceased. “The issue will not be over with  the suspension of  a village office assistant,” said Chennithala. “Village office authorities were continually suffocating Joy for the past year ad a half by not collecting the property tax of his landholding, with an eye on getting a bribe.” “Joy and his family had even staged  a satyagraha in front of  the village office. Even the tahsildar’s direction to the village officers concerned to collect the tax was not complied with. Pained over the attitude, Joy ended his life.’’ Chennithala said government officers often adopt a disappointing stand towards people. “Thousands of  people approach various government offices like the village office every day. If officers don’t give proper attention to provide time-bound services to the people, tragedies like this may recur,” he said, adding people will lose faith in the system if the government doesn’t take stringent measures against guilty officers.

Minister orders probe into farmer’s death

T’Puram : Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan has ordered an inquiry into the alleged suicide of a farmer outside a village office in Kozhikode. He directed Revenue Secretary P H Kurian to submit the report at the earliest. He also said the village assistant has been suspended following a preliminary report from the District Collector.

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