Leader of Kerala’s historic land agitation of Dalits, Laha Gopalan, dies at 72

The historic Chengara land struggle leader and Dalit activist Laha Gopalan died on Wednesday at the age of 72 in Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.

He was undergoing treatment in Pathanamthitta General Hospital after testing positive for coronavirus. He was suffering from various old-age ailments for some years.

In 2007, Gopalan led from the front an agitation of landless Dalits to reclaim the estate land belonging to the Harrisons Malayalam Limited, a corporate giant in the agricultural field. Gopalan was the leader of this historic agitation that brought the state’s attention to land struggles across the state.

As many as 300 landless families led by the Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi had encroached on nearly 145 hectares of land under Harrison Malayalam Limited’s rubber plantation at Chengara near Konni on August 4, 2007. They had demanded five acres for farming and Rs 50,000 in cash towards initial farming expenses to each of the families.  

(More to follow)