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Satyagrahi will march to parliament of India
Written by: Anil Gupta, Ajoy Chaudhuri, Elodie Kergresse (Ekta Parishad Communications Team)
Writing date: October 2009
Organizations: Ekta Parishad
3rd Day of satyagraha (non-violent resistance for truth) for national land reforms policy
5,000 people’s from deprived communities gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
5,000 satyagrahis (non-violent activist) sleeping on the road and continuing fasting and demanding declaration of national land reform policy and better implementation of forest right recognition act.
The issue of peoples’ control and ownership of land is at the centre of livelihood rights and self-esteem that governments have been wilfully neglecting for long. In order to bring land issues back into the mainstream social and political agenda, the Janadesh 2007 long march had been undertaken by Ekta Parishad from 02nd to 29th October 2007. As a result of this effort the Government of India formed the National Land Reforms Committee under the Minister of Rural Development and the National Land Reforms Commission chaired by the Prime Minister. The Committee’s report providing policy guidelines have been submitted to the Commission and the need now is for the Commission to formulate and declare the New Land Reforms Policy. This Satyagraha is organized to pressure the Commission to start prescribed tasks. The President of Ekta Parishad and also member of the National Land Reforms Commission Mr. Rajgopal P.V said that this policy is closely linked to the issues of poverty and hunger and the government needs to act on it forthwith.
Over 5,000 people representing landless labourers, small farmers mainly from dalit and adivasi communities of 11 states have gathered at Jantar Mantar. These people will continue to sleep under open skies, fasting through the daytime and eating one meal a day in the evening, until such time as the government and the National Land Reforms Commission gives a direct assurance as to when and what it plans to do in terms of the New Land Reforms Policy in the immediate future.
Ramesh Sharma of Ekta Parishad said that the Minister of Rural Development called a meeting on the 13th of October last and the overall government attitude does not reflect the urgency and importance that needs to be accorded to the declaration and implementation of this policy.
Shri Govind Acharya, prominent proponent of Swadeshi and Convenor of Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan addressed over 5,000 satyagrahis today. Speaking alternately in colloquial Bhojpuri and Chhattisghari he said the true indicator of realistic development of rural areas is freedom from hunger and fear. But today the lives and livelihood of millions of rural people in the country is far from secure and therefore non-violent actions like this Satyagraha is all the more relevant.
Shri Ran Singh Parmar, National Convenor of Ekta Parishad, said that the government continues to claim that there is no land available to be distributed to the poor yet hundreds and thousands of acres are being handed over for private and state industrial, mining etc. enterprises; this double standard has to stop.
Shri Pradeep Priyadarshi, land rights activist from Bihar, informed that the State government in Bihar, has now declared that for various political reasons it has no intention of implementing the Bandhapadhyay Commission report. In 2008, the Bihar government had set up a State Land Reforms Commission under D. Bandhapadhyay and received its report which is said to be well balanced and provides land reforms guidelines that will go a long way in eradicating poverty and hunger. With non-violent peoples’ action, pressure from Ekta Parishad and other organizations over the past year, the Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar finally took up the report for review at the cabinet after almost a year. However, the government stand is unfortunate.
Shri Shanawaz Khan, National General Secretary of NSUI, met President and other senior activists of Ekta Parishad at the Sathyagraha. Pledging support to the peoples’ issues raised by the organisation he assured that would inform and appraise the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi and General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on these issues.
On the second day, 30th October, a delegation led by Ekta Parishad National Convenor Ransingh Parmar met Digvijay Singh, General Secretary of All India Congress Committee and former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. He apprised the Prime Minister’s Office of the Satyagrahi’s demands and said that either the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or State Secretary Prithviraj Chauhan would meet a delegation on 31st October.
The Sathyagraha goes into the third day with rousing songs and slogans exhibiting great enthusiasm in readiness to bear more hardships in their long struggle for rights, access and control over land, water and forests.
The organisation will hold a National Public Hearing through the day with community leaders giving their testimony on their life situation and problems. This will be followed a press meeting addressed by Rajagopal P.V. President Ekta Parishad and EP State Council Presidents.
In the evening a prayer meeting will be held with 5,000 people holding lit candles in memory of three people who laid down their life during the Janadesh 2007 long march.
By this evening, if there is no assurance from the Prime Minister’s Office, the 5,000 people assembled at Jantar Mantar will move out in a rally towards Parliament House to submit their memorandum, 01st November 09.
Anil Gupta; Ajoy Chaudhuri; Elodie Kergresse (Ekta Parishad Communications Team)
Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, 31 October 2009