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Victory for landless protesters

March on capital ends as government pledges reform

Victory for landless protesters
Landless peasants protest reporter, Bhopal

October 12, 2012

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More than 50,000 landless and homeless peasants demanding land reforms ended their protest march yesterday after the federal government agreed to their demands. “Since the federal government has agreed to look into our legitimate demands we have called off the march,” said P. V. Rajagopal of Ekta Parishad, which is spearheading the protest, after a meeting with federal rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. The protesters are demanding a national land reform law that will pave the way for the landless to get nearly two hectares of agriculture land and the homeless to get houses. The federal government has signed an agreement with Rajagopal conceding to the farmers’ demands, saying it is committed to enacting land reform laws to protect the interest of tribal people and other sections of society. The agreement was signed in the presence of thousands of tribal members of the marginalized community. Federal Minister Ramesh told reporters that the agreement has the approval of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It includes setting up a task force under the rural development minister to take the process forward. The first task force meeting is expected on October 17. The government also agreed to set up fast-track land tribunals for cases pending in revenue and judicial courts. Other prominent features of the agreement include enhanced land access and land rights for the poor and the setting up of joint teams of forest and revenue departments to resolve forest and revenue boundary disputes. Ramesh said that if the government is unable to present a draft of the policy within six months, then Rajagopal has every right to restart his agitation. In 2007, a 25,000-person march, organized by Ekta Parishad, pressed for the same demands. The government agreed then to look into their demands and created committees on the issue, but nothing came of it. Related report Thousands of homeless march on capital

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