Janadesh 'yatris' end agitation after acceptance of demands

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New Delhi, Oct 29 (UNI) The nearly 25,000 protestors who reached here yesterday after a 320-km march from Gwalior as part of the 'Janadesh Yatra', demanding rights to land and livelihood, today ended their agitation after the acceptance of their demands by the Centre.

Mrityunjay, a coordinator of the march by the thousands of landless labourers for their rights to 'jal, zameen aur jungles' (water, land and forests), said since the Centre had agreed to their demand of formation of an experts Committee to look into the issue of land reforms, they had decided to end the agitation.

''A decision to constitute a Land Reforms council was taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad today. This is what we have been demanding for.

With our major demand having been met, we have decided to end our agitation. So, while several of the protestors are returning to their homes tonight, the others will return tomorrow,'' Mr Mrityunjay told UNI.

Mr Rajgopal, president of the Ekta Parishad, had earlier in the day met Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad.

In an unprecedented campaign for restoring land to the displaced due to industrial projects, nearly 25,000 people, including adivasis and Dalits from 18 states, had reached Delhi yesterday after a 325-km long padyatra from Gwalior to Delhi.

They have been 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, had 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.

Major demands included establishment of a National Land Commission by the government 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 who participated were 11,000 people from Madhya Pradesh as well as people from Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Also among the campaigners were hundreds of women.

Around 200 foreigners from 30 countries also took part in the rally lending support to the cause of the Tribals, Adivasis and landless workers.

Earlier today, the marchers were not allowed to proceed to Parliament.

Jill Rajgopal, a senior activist of the Ekta Parishad, said the rallyists had planned to leave for Jantar Mantar early this morning, but police advised them to venture only after 0930 hrs, but later all the gates of the grounds were locked up.

''Since it is a non-violent movement, we did not want to break through barricades. We decided to sit here and carry on our agitation,'' she told UNI

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