Under the banner of Ekta Parishad, Jan Andolan movement was a public disquiet about land rights.
A range of forest-covered hills, in the Boirdeeh village, of Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, is a habitat for a lot of Adivasi tribes. Needless to say, they largely depend on the land and other natural resources for their livelihood and survival. In recent years, the forest dwellers are facing a lot of challenges due to deforestation. Ekta Parishad, started a Jan Andolan movement, to raise such issues which are impeding the rights of the people.
“There is a lot of problem because of deforestation. The land is not good enough for farming, neither are their other resources. This is all leading to a lot of migration to other cities, and so involving them to raise voice for their rights was important”, said Bruhin, a member of Ekta Parishad.
For the past three decades, Ekta Parishad has been constantly raising voices on issues of land, water and forest rights for the marginalised community. Committed by Satyagraha (truth-force) and Ahimsa (non-violence) as its principles, this organisation provides voices to the oppressed. In October 2007, a people’s movement Janadesh, gathered 25,000 people from all over the country. This social action led to the government providing implementation rules for forest and land distribution to tribal people and other forest dwellers. Followed by Jan Satyagraha in October 2012, had nearly 48,000 landless Adivasis from 26 states, demanding national land reform policy.
Lakhanlal, a farmer from Karmota village, owes his triumph of agriculture land yields to Ekta Prishad. “The culture of ‘Kodo’ (millet rice) is nearly out of practice in the state. But this has a lot of health benefits too. A lot of diseases get cured by its consumption. What we grow in our field gives us multifold yields. We owe it to the guidance given to us by Ekta Parishad and we would continue consulting them in future too”, says Lakhanlal. The idea of preparing Kodo rice is to help sugar patients. Other past social actions led by Ekta Parishad have contributed to orchestrating changes like implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006 and drafting of the Land Reform Policy.
In 2018, Jan Andolan movement highlighted the issue of land rights for Adivasis. “After one of our Jan Andolan protests, the native got a patch of land for themselves and employment guarantee was also given. However, the compensation we are given is fairly less from what was promised by the Rural Development Minister”, adds Bruhin. In response, the State government assured a land task force within six months, but nothing happened.
“We’ve written to the Prime Minister numerous times but no avail. Hence we are trying to raise the issue now. Keeping all this in mind, the government should start a scheme that won't take time and solve the issues in an easy manner”, said Mohhomad Khan, State Representative of Ekta Parishad.
In India, approximately 70% of the population depends on access to land and its natural resources. Sadly, people have to go through land disputes and legal cases to ask for their rights. Ekta Parishad connects people to come together and fight for their rights. Every people’s movement is a result of an immense struggle and a fight for social justice.
Video by Community Correspondent Bhan Sahu.
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team
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If not for the intervention by our community correspondent, the poor villagers would have continued paying taxes for a land they didn't own.