73-year-old widow on indefinite sit-in before Thodupuzha Tahsildar demanding title deed

Alakkal Ammini protesting at the Tahsildar's Office in Thodupuzha on Thursday. Photos: Special arrangement

Idukki: Alakkal Ammini, aged 73, has begun an indefinite sit-in at the Tahsildar Office in the Civil Station, Thodupuzha. She is protesting 25 years of official apathy that has allegedly denied her title deed to a land she possessed for over 50 years.

Over the years, the 10-cent property (government 'tharishu') on a rocky terrain of Pathikkappara in the Alakkode Village, where Ammini lived with her husband Kochu Kunju, has shrunk to 1.5 cents. “Presently she lives there in a small house, built with aid from the panchayat,” said her lawyer Tom Joseph.

Since the death of Kochu Kunju in 2017, the childless Ammini has lived alone on the property while a neighbour, who retired from a Village Office, has allegedly grabbed most of her land citing an order from the High Court.

Advocate Joseph says the neighbour's claim is baseless as the court order was about fixing boundaries to a 1.3-acre property in the locality, and not related to Ammini's. “The survey sketch and other revenue records will give a clear picture,” Joseph said.

According to the lawyer, Village Office records prove the ownership of the land. He says village officers had recommended title deed to Ammini's property on at least four occassions since 2002.

He says the last report by a Village Officer even has mention of the trees Ammini planted and the last rites of her husband performed on the land.

But Ammini says nothing happened. “All these years they have been just putting numbers on my application,” said Ammini. She believes Revenue officials need to take action “They need to take the final call or my protest will continue. They are saying they need 10 days to make a decision, so I will continue my protest,” said Ammini on Thursday, the second day of her sit-in.

'Need to vet the court order'
Meanwhile, Thodupuzha Tahsildar Bijimol A S told Onmanorma that she has to vet the court order that Ammini’s neighbour Narayanan claims to have in his favour before making a decision. “The taluk surveyor has been asked to survey the land and a report has also been sought from the Alakkode village officer. After verifying all this, I will take a decision,” Bijimol said.

She said a few years ago the surveyor had attempted to survey the 10 cents, but Narayanan objected.

Advocate Joseph said Revenue officials can settle this matter by issuing a title deed for Ammini. “The couple had made a living by working as daily-wage workers. Now, at 73, Ammini cannot work. The front portion of the plot has been taken over by the neighbour. Tin sheets have been placed on the boundaries and Ammini has been given a two-foot pathway on one side of the land to enter her house,” Joseph said.

It is understood that the office of Revenue Minister K Rajan has sought a report on the matter from the Idukki Collector.

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