Bhopal is the capital of India’s centrally located state Madhya Pradesh, housing 15.6 percent of Dalits and 21.1 percent of Adivasis totaling 26.6 million. Every fifth of the Adivasi and every 7th of the Dalit in the county live in Madhya Pradesh.
On 9th June, thousands of Dalit-Adivasi men, women from all over Madhya Pradesh converged in city’s Shahajani Park, about 1km from Bhopal Railway station. Adivasis marching under the banner of Adivasi Adhikar Andolan led by Dadulal Kole and Dalit under the banner of Rashtriya Dalit Mahasabha led by its General Secretary Sanjay Kumar Bharti joined together demanding from the Government to implement Land Reform in Madhya Pradesh enabling every land less – Dalit, Adivasi or of any caste and creed – gets 5 acre land.
Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra Converge in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh in India!
Thousands of Landless Dalits and Advasis Demand Land for Livelihood and Dignity!!
The Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra leaders had no media machinery, no laptop carrying middle or elite class activists supporting them. Leaders of this Yatra could neither read or write English – the main language of discourse, communication or propagation of thoughts of Indian Civil Society. But the Yatra evoke good response and thousands of the Dalits and Adivasis and other landless people reached Bhopal demanding five acre land for all the landless people in Madhya Pradesh.
It was interesting that most of the men and women who joined this Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra from its starting point at Hanumana in district Rewa or those who reached Bhopal on 9th June fall short of speaking, reading or writing fluent Hindi, the state language of Madhya Pradesh. But this lack of command over Hindi or English was a non-issue for them. They knew only one thing that they were land less and they declare their need and demanded land. Unlike underground and so called radicals, these Dalit, Adivasis and Landless and their representatives were clear about their expectation from the Government and they believed that it was the duty of the state to fulfill their demands of 5 acre land.
Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra, which Dalit-Adivasi launched and dared to walk by foot for the cause of land indicated their courage and determination. The Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra that began on 1st January 2013, had been to more than 646 villages spread from Rewa on UP-MP border, covering whole MP part of Bundelkhand and then to Vidisha, Raisen and then to state capital Bhopal and hence covering more than 2200 kms.
Organisers – the Adivasi Adhikar Andolan and the Rashtriya Dalit Mahasabha – a unique combination, seems to be aware of political fall out of this joint struggle. In Madhya Pradesh, where Bahujan Samaj Party, which has made it presence felt among the Dalits, has failed to make inroad among the Adivasis. Similarly Gandwana Gantantra Party, which has presence among the Adivasis, has failed to enroll Dalits as its mass base. With lost base among the Dalits, Congress is trying hard to gain foot hold among the Dalits. BJP is has already made clear to increase its vote share among them, it will be interesting to see how this collective journey will unfold in Madhya Pradesh, which goes to the poll at the end of this year. If Shivraj Chauhan Government offer what Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra is demanding, he could be sure of getting in power 3rd time. Women after women who addressed the Rally at Bhopal declared that they will vote to the one who gave them land. Let us see how this unity and the challenge by the Dalits and Adivasis unfurl?