New Delhi, Oct 28 (UNI) Scores of people from across the country, who are part of a marathon protest march against displacement from their land and denial of access to traditional sources of livelihood, today reached Delhi to air their grievances.
In the unprecedented campaign for restoring land to the displaced due to industrial projects, nearly 25,000 people, including adivasis and Dalits from 18 states, were on the 325-km padyatra from Gwalior to Delhi. They are agitating under the banner of Janadesh 2007, to press for the rights of tribals and Dalits over 'jal', 'jungle' and 'zameen' (water, forests and land).
The march, which began from Gwalior on October 3, entered the national capital late this morning from Badarpur area. It has been organised by the Ekta Parishad, a grassroots organisation which has been working in many parts of India for the past 30 years to ensure poor people access to livelihood resources.
''What is our future? We don't get adequate food, don't have a roof over our heads and don't have a place to bury our dead. Why?'' said an agitated Lakhi Prasad, who hails from Jharkhand.
Airing her grievances, Janki Amma, a frail looking 83-year-old woman from Tamil Nadu, demanded to know why her land had been taken away from her.
''Don't we have a right to live... I need my land to sustain me and my family why has it been snatched away from me by the rich people,'' she said.
The protestors, dressed in traditional gear and some carrying bamboo bows and arrows, converged in the Ram Lila Maidan. Tomnorrow they will stage a march to Parliament.
Chief among the demands of the non-violent campaigners is that the government establish a National Land Commission to formulate land policies, provide direction to state governments, and monitor progress on land distribution and entitlement by state governments; ensure that the national land policy takes into account the needs of the poor and set up fast-track courts to settle past and future conflicts related to land quickly and effectively.
Among those participating are 11,000 people from Madhya Pradesh as well as people from Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Also among the campaigners are hundreds of women.
The Delhi Traffic Police had made elaborate arrangements to ensure smooth movement of traffic in Delhi in view of the Janadesh Yatra.
The march entered Delhi from the Badarpur border in South Delhi and moved towards the Ramlila Maidan via Mathura Road, Ashram Chowk, Sarai Kale Khan and Pragati Maidan.