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History of an activist…


Interview realized during a sit-in organized by Ekta Parishad, Indian movement dedicated to the defense of the rights of the landless people, from the 29th of October to the 1st of November of 2009, at Jantar Mantar, Delhi.

Photo Bhagavat
Photo Bhagavat
We are sitting on the road with the 5.000 satyagrahis and Bhagavat, an Ekta Parishad activist coming from a village named Katchua in Madhya Pradesh, tells us his story.

“In my region, after the Independence of India, the land has been divided between the Forest Department (Forest Land) and the Revenue Department (Government Land) meanwhile before, all the land was hold by the Government.

At this time, 200 families were living in this area from the river, the forest products and farming. They were given the right to cultivate 50% of the forest land.

In 1965, the Forest Department created a national park, so 12 families have been displaced in a boundary. In 1972, the Forest Department ordered to use the trees to construct railway lines. Then, companies arrived also in this area to make paper from the bamboo of the forest. All that has had as a consequence other displacements of people. Moreover, the river was getting dry, and the wild animals began to enter in the villages. In 1996, the Forest Department, willing to protect the wild life, set up a program financed by the World Bank and implemented a natural reserve. Still more people have been displaced. Most of them went to urban areas.

We are in conflict with the Government, not with the animals. We do not want to destroy the forest and we are not responsible for its destruction. Tourism and companies are responsible for it. Nowadays, wild animals kill the domestic ones in the villages and also attack its habitants. Last year we counted 10 to 15 attacks of tigers. What we want is simple. We want the Government not to allow the private companies to construct hotels in this area.

I am struggling for the rights of my community since I met Rajagopal, president of Ekta Parishad, in 1987. Since then, we are mobilizing people, organizing youth camps, satyagrahas. We had some victories as getting pattas but it has not been always easy. For example at the beginning, in 1987, during a Satyagraha (non violent action), we were 70 people. We have been accused of terrorism, arrested and put in jail during 15 days.

What I want now is to create more mobilization, make people self-sufficient. I want to promote Ekta Parishad and to support it. I want to promote organic farming and develop animal husbandries. Also, what I would like to say to the foreigners is to come and see what is happening. Do not waste the company’s profit without investing to social programs in the local areas.

Before participating in Janadesh 2007 (footmarch of 25.000 landless people from Gwalio to Delhi organized by Ekta Parishad in 2007), people in the village were telling me: “Do not go to the city because people will kill you. In the city there is not good water and not good food”. Now I feel that we can do something because we are thousands and thousands.”


Interview realized by Elodie Kergresse

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