news Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 05:30
    Santhosh Kumar fears for his life after being run over by two cars for protesting against a stone crushing unit in his village in Kerala.   The 44-year-old advocate heads the Paristhithi Samrakshana Ekopana Samithi in Kollam district, which has been at the forefront of the protests against the SN Granites, a stone crushing unit in Velliyam village. Samithi has alleged that the stone crushing unit is operating illegally, and has also not put in place the necessary measures to control pollution.   On Monday, Kumar narrowly survived an attempt on his life, but is now recuperating at the district government hospital. Kumar was on his way to Veliyam where the samithi had organized a protest. At Nedumkavu, on the way from his house in Kottarakkara, an Innova rammed into his car, and sped off. But even as he got out of his own car, another car waiting behind tried to run him over.   According to Kumar, the crushing unit owners Nisar and Shahjahan allegedly ordered the hit. An FIR has been filed.   “I was alone in my car. They tried to run me over, but I got out of the car and ran. Then the owners of the crusher unit and some goons surrounded me and the owners said that they will kill me. The goons and Nisar attacked me, but some of the locals intervened and called the police. That’s how I escaped,” Kumar told The News Minute. Kumar has sustained injuries on his head and chest.   On reaching the spot, police arrested both owners of the unit and one other person.   Sub-inspector of Pooyappalli police station Firoz I said that three people had been arrested for trying to assault Santhosh Kumar. “We have begun a probe into the incident. It could be revenge for the protests, but only a detailed investigation can say what exactly happened,” he said.     The Samithi began to protest against the stone crushing unit when the firm began construction around one-and-a-half year ago on 144 acres of land, which was sold to the firm by the government.   They then approached the approached Kerala High Court seeking action against the unit as they claim that the unit did not have environmental clearances and had also taken measures to control pollution. Kumar claims that government land once sold can only be used for farming activities as per law.   “The case is still pending with the Court. The unit has caused major environmental hazards, such as loss of ground water, causing water shortage in neighbouring areas,” Kumar says.   Because of the construction of the unit, the land on which the unit was constructed had been deforested to make way for the unit. Along with the forests, the wildlife dependent on it disappeared.   “This village was known for peacocks, this area was their habitat. Peacocks were everywhere before the unit came up, now most of them are dead,” Kumar added.   Despite these protests, the local panchayat gave a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to SN Granites on Saturday, which irked the activists forcing them to protest.   “On Monday women from the village had gathered in front of the company to protest and I was travelling to attend it,” Kumar said.   Despite other alleged attempts on his life in the past, he is determined not to give up. He claims that he even the police are hand in glove with the owners of the unit.   “This Shahjahan and Nisar have threatened me many times. They said if you have Rs 1 lakh and a tipper lorry you can kill anyone on earth,” he alleged.   “They might kill me in future, but I don’t care,” Kumar said.      
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