On 9th April 2015, 300 landless and homeless people, primarily Dalits, Mahadalits, Adivasis, women and children, will march to the Legislative Assembly in Bihar’s capital, Patna. The group will put forward five demands and ask the government to keep its promise of providing tenancy to the 3.78 lakh landless Dalits in Bihar.
This is a follow up protest from last year when on 5th March 2014 over 3000 people, under the banners of nine organizations namely Parivartan Jan Andolan, Janmukti Sangharsh Vahini, Parchadhari Sangharsh Vahini, Kosi Navnirmaan Manch, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Lok Sangharsh Samiti, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Dalit Shakti Sangathan, Majdoor Kisaan Samiti, working on land rights and forest land rights in Bihar, staged a peaceful demonstration in front of then State's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Residence. The Chief Minister had refused to engage with the delegation, which was instead lathi charged by the police.
The Bihar Government had announced that it would speed up the process of providing tenancy to landless Dalit community through ‘Operation Basera' and 'Operation Dakhal Dehani'. Those working on the ground highlight that far too much remains to be done. A release from the nine groups explains the anger on the ground:
“But the organisations with will power and people's power are planning to make this movement a larger movement for land rights and forestland rights. The land issue, which was on the periphery, was brought back to heart of the discourse again in Bihar. The government has not responded to this issue and has been trying to bypass it by saying all illogical things [sic] and cheat the landless people by forming a commission on land reforms and not implementing the recommendations of this commission. Movements working on this issue tried to meet the CM as delegation many times but the CM did not meet the people's delegation a single time. The CM who took loans from the World Bank to rehabilitate the displaced people of Koshi (river floods) and promised 1 lakh houses, did not build even 12000 houses. The CM conducts Janata Darbar(People’s Court) where he is king and not 1% of the disputes in Janta Darbar are solved.”
These organizations have made the following demands to the Govt. of Bihar:
1. Implement Forest Rights Act 2006 and accept claims of the Adivasiand traditional dwellers in the forest.
2. Ensure land rights of lakhs of people holding parcha/parwana (land ownership titles) on the ceiling, bhoodan, government and other lands.
3. Ensure complete rehabilitation of the displaced people of Kosifloods 2008 and fulfil the promise of building 1 lakh houses.
4. Guarantee complete rehabilitation of the displaced from erosion of embankments of rivers.
5. Give land tiles in the name of both wife and husband. Ensure women's rights to land in land reforms, forest land rights, rehabilitation, and land distribution.
The release says, “The CM is not able to address the issues raised by non-violent movements and not also able to tolerate nonviolent peaceful non-political march by Citizens of Patna. Such situations give birth torevolutions. The nine organisations (which) came together and protested on5th March are not discouraged. This behaviour of CM has strengthened our will power and convictions for larger and sustainable movement for land rights.”
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