Monday, October 29, 2007

Landless Marchers in India

Over the last four weeks landless low caste peasants and indigenous folk have embarked on a protest march to Delhi. They walked 200 miles (325 km) to demand that the Indian government address their lack of access to land and water.

According to the BBC there were about 25 000 marchers.

Police, however, intervened and stopped the marchers from reaching the parliament buildings today. The marchers intended to stage a protest for land reform in front of the parliament buildings in New Delhi.

The BBC reports that:"They are calling for a national authority to oversee land reform and a system of fast track courts to deal with the long delays in resolving land disputes."

Many of the marchers also complained that they have not been included in India's "economic boom".

See video of the march from the BBC here.


This post also appears at Indigenist Intelligence Review.

The BBC reports that the Indian government "says it will set up a panel on land reform to meet the demands of landless farmers and indigenous people."

Protest leader, Bharat Bhushan Thakur, said in the same report, "Our demands have been met. We are fully satisfied, now that the rural development minister came here and made the announcement."

There is no timetable for meeting demands but the Rural Development Minister, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, has indicated that demands will be met soon.

This is heartening news and ongoing evidence that street struggle is alive and well in India.


Shus li che dut nah (Spring Thunder) said...

Oh, dear me, Native Indians are deprived of their ancestral lands and when they march toward their government center to protest they are diverted by police!

(Hey, are we talking about the U.S.?)

My prayer today is for strength and success to the people of the Earth who are rising up against oppressive governments which would deny them of their relationship to Earth.

Thanks for putting this article and video up, Ridwan.

Erica said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems as if the protesters truly believe that their demands has been truly met, but from what I'm gathering the government has not set a timetable to their demands and the RDM said that action would be taken as soon as possible.

To me, this sounds as if the government is telling the protesters exactly what they want to hear in order to make the situation go away.

Sounds like a Bush move to me, but like I said correct me if I'm wrong.

Ridwan said...

Hello Shusli:

The claims of the landless peasants and idigenous do appear exactly as you indicate ... and it is the same story in South Africa (the Khoisan) and in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Thailand, and Burma, and on and on ...

The issue of land and access to land is foremost to any revolutionary struggle, still.

Thanks for looking in my sista.


Ridwan said...

Hello Erica:

You are on the button with your comment. I just read the BBC report and then updated my post.

The RDM seems to be moving in the direction of the demands. But we should remember that the land issue has been around for what seems forever.

But even the marchers and their leaders seem optimistic.

I don't think one can read too much into the police action to stop the march from getting to Parliament.

I know the area well and in the case of other protests marchers were similarly stopped.

This seems to be in keeping general security protocol.

Now it will remain to be seen if things will move for the landless and idigenous peasants.

The latter are 'almost invisible' in the formal structures of India.

I have dealt with the Indian bureacracy and I will tell you that my optimism is on hold ... I will see if things move as the RDM says it will ...

I share your reservation.

Still, this is not an issue that will go away in India or anywhere else.

Thanks for looking in Erica.

Peace and struggle,

Jubin George said...

Hi Ridwan,

Thank you for writing about it. Sadly, but without any great surprise, the Indian media, and the urban public, gave it not much importance. About a year back, there were nationwide protests by Dalit organisations, which had turned violent at most of the occasions. And one of the prominent leaders of these agitations commented that it was because no one listens to non-violent protests. No one really listened to his violent protest either, still there's some truth in what he said.

The urban public of India Shining, euphoric with their new jobs and new cars, hopes these people - the rural poor and all such marginalised communities that constitute more than 70% of the population will just disappear, if they turn a blind eye. And the media, the mainstream and blogosphere, is of, and for, this myopic urban public.

I don't see any fast, positive results coming out of this protest. Still, this march was great enough to rekindle a glimmer of hope.

Ridwan said...

Hello Jubin George. Thank you for adding the much needed complexity to the post.

I am worried that the RDM may have just made promises they do not intend to keep.

And the rural poor took these promises as a good faith gesture.

70 percent as you point out live in the rural areas but one would hardly know.

What is seen outside, and what India Shining wants to promote, is fast track urbanized development.

It is sad brother, that the urbanites want the rural masses to just disappear.

Thank you for reaching out brother. I trust you are well.

I read your post on cricket, oz, Symonds, and racism yesterday ... I needed time as usual to figure a comment ;0)

You are right on here and on that 'score' ...

Peace and revolution,

Dione said...

With the great divisions between the rich and the poor, especially the poor- I feel like the citizens are victims of opression. Its having to ASK for BASIC RIGHTS, is enough to understand that they are victims. We can see other examples such as the rural Palestinian farmers who have no crops, land, or water irrigation. They have no food to feed their familys, they have no other means to support their familys. Its happening all over the world. I'm glad to see people talking about it!