Janadesh 'yatris' not allowed to proceed to Parliament

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New Delhi, Oct 29 (UNI) Protestors who had marched to Delhi as part of the 'Janadesh Yatra', demanding rights to land and livelihood, were today not allowed to proceed to Parliament.

''We are virtually being held at the Ram Lila grounds here,'' said Jill Rajgopal, a senior activist of the Ekta Parishad.

She 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.

Describing the police act as ''violation of our right to freedom of expression'', Jill said the government had been informed of the agitation, well in advance. ''They have let us down, by curbing our right to hold demonstrations,'' she regretted.

Police, however, denied use of any force and arrests.

She said Mr Rajgopal, president of the Ekta Parishad, was at present meeting 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 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, 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.

Major demands include 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 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.


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