Gwalior: More than 50,000 tribals have started their march on foot to Delhi from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, demanding land rights. The tribals under the umbrella of a Gandhinan organisation, Ekta Parishad, started the march after their talks with Union government's representative including Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Minister of State for Industry and Commerce failed.
The organisation had threatened to stage a march by landless poor to Delhi on October 2 to highlight their problems, following which some Cabinet ministers had been deputed to mollify the group at Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.
Ramesh, Scindia, Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik and Panchayati Raj Minister Kishore Chandra Deo met the tribals led by activist PV Rajagopal but failed to pacify them or arrive at an agreement.
Ekta Parishad, a people's movement headed by Rajagopal, had announced that people, representing different rural communities, especially tribal, landless and small farmers, "will walk in formation together 350 kms from Gwalior to New Delhi."
Rajagopal said the Jan Satyagraha 2012 march campaign is a non-violent walk beginning on October 2, and scheduled to carry on for one month before culminating in New Delhi.
"The people will raise the issue about land being a key asset in development and poverty reduction, and that high levels of landlessness and deprivation need to be reduced for achieving positive national and global development. In effect, land and livelihood rights are instrumental to all people's freedom," the organisation said.
Rajagopal, who also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said Singh had agreed to the demand that poor be given the access to land and the fundamental issue of Right to Shelter should be addressed.
"Prime Minister has assured me that his government would come up with a land reform policy in six months. He has also agreed to make long standing demand for Right to Shelter a fundamental right," Rajagopal, who is a member of the Prime Minister-chaired National Council for Land Reforms, said.
The Prime Minister has also agreed to another demand that a land pool should be created in which government lands and Bhoodan land recovered from powerful will be kept for distributing to landless poor, he said.
(With additional information from PTI)