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Angered by apathetic attitude of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, thousands of women have threatened to march to his house on the International Women’s Day to demand answers to multiple demands of Dalit, Tribal and excluded communities.
“We are demanding that the state’s chief minister should at least have the courage of listening to the demands of the oppressed majority that has come together as part of a peoples’ alliance. We will march to the CM’s residence under the leadership of women,” said Sarika Sinha, from ActionAid.
Following a sit in protest since 6th March, which has drawn media focus on demands by excluded communities led by women, a delegation of Jan Pahel also set out to meet the governor Hon Mr Rameshwar Thakur on 7th March.
The representation follows repeated attempts to get an audience and representation with the Chief Minister to listen to their demand. The dharna “Dera Dalo, Ghera Dalo” continues at Bhopal Board Office chouraha awaiting a response from the chief minister.
Before the delegation set off for the governor’s office, a press conference was addressed by community leaders and representatives from the communities who are reeling under impact of displacement, denial of their rights on common resources like land and forest, undermining of the powers and rights of gram sabha and panchayati institutions.
The speakers included demands such as right to land, forest and water as their basic entitlement which cannot be taken away and said the so-called development focus is superficial. They said as long as basic violations of rights continue, the talk of growth is meaningless.
The agitation underway is also in the backdrop of the centenary of the International Women’s Day, 8th March. The status of women and girls, especially from the Dalit, Tribal and Oppressed communities, in Madhya Pradesh is one of the worst in the country.
Jan Pahel is a platform of the excluded communities, progressive individuals and mass organisations in Madhya Pradesh. It is an emerging platform in that aspires to bring together people (men and women; girls and boys; people who do not come under these binary classifications) from all the excluded communities. In the last two years, there have been several initiatives by the people’s organizations to come together and assert their rights as well as hold the state accountable.
These efforts have taken the form of public hearings, rallies, Dharna, sit-in protests and are backed by a conscious politicization programme and cadre leadership development courses. It is also imperative to note that these have also succeeded in bringing about changes in some of the policies and practices of the state.
The press conference was addressed by Yogesh Divan, Sarika Sinha, Gayatri Pande, Tekaram Bairag, Girja Bai, Giridhar Baiga and Barat0 Bai.
The list of demands includes:
- Challenging dispossession through control over resources
- Equal opportunities to the excluded communities
- Food Sovereignty for all the excluded communities
- Democratization of society, economy and polity at all the levels