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Land rights victory for marchers

Bede's Way Walk start from St Peter's Monkwearmouth 2012October 2012

On Saturday 6 October, 91 people walked Christian Aid’s Bede’s Way Walk (12-mile and four-mile routes) between Monkwearmouth and Jarrow in solidarity with tens of thousands of poor Indians who were marching 200 miles to Delhi to secure the rights to their land.

Within five days they received news of a stunning campaign victory that could lift 400 million people out of poverty.

Government agrees to marchers’ demands

The Indian March for Justice was called off following government agreement to their demands. Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh signed the agreement in front of marchers as they gathered in Agra, Uttar Pradesh on 11 October. 

The new deal gives statutory backing to the provision of agricultural land to the landless poor in the poorer districts.

In addition, the government will urge states to protect the land rights of dalits, tribals and ‘all other weaker and marginalised sections of society’, and fast-track tribunals will be established to resolve land issues quickly.

Solidarity walks

Some 60,000 marchers, mainly socially marginalised dalits and tribal people, began the 200-mile Jan Satyagraha march from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh to Delhi on 3 October. They were due to reach the capital later that month.

At the same time, 10 solidarity walks took place around the UK with hundreds of people participating to show support for the Indian marchers. They recorded messages of encouragement and raised sponsorship to boost the campaign.

Rev Lindsey Goodhew from Durham, who completed the Bede’s Way Walk with her family, said: ‘This is absolutely fantastic news! We enjoyed the walk enormously on Saturday and it’s great to know that our efforts, and those of the Indian marchers, have been successful.

'It’s particularly encouraging for my children to know that something they’ve been involved in has achieved such a significant result!’

Eradication of poverty

The Indian march was organised by Christian Aid partner Ekta Parishad, which mobilised some 2,000 civil society groups around the country to provide marchers.

Anand Kumar, Christian Aid’s country manager in India, said: ‘Congratulations to Ekta Parishad and the marchers. This is a true example of people’s victory through peaceful negotiation.

‘Access to land is critical for the eradication of poverty. We hope that today’s success will give hope and inspire other land struggles in other parts of the world.’

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