Agra, Oct 11: Farmers and tribals marching towards New Delhi to press their demand for land reforms Thursday ended their agitation here on the central government’s assurance to prepare a policy-frame on land rights within six months.
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh held talks with the protestors’ representatives and announced that the reforms agenda would be ready for implementation in six months.
Over 30,000 marchers, including tribals, landless labourers, marginal farmers and activists belonging to NGOs, had left Gwalior Oct 2 for New Delhi as part of the ‘Jan Satyagraha Yatra’ (people’s agitation for truth), demanding rights over ‘jal, zameen, jungle’ (water, land and forest).
After the central government’s assurance, the protestors, who were led by Gandhian B.P. Rajgopalan of the Ekta Parishad, started returning home.
Extra bogies were provided in trains to facilitate their return, according to railway officials at the Agra Cantonment railway station.
Ramesh addressed a press conference later and clarified that it was the state governments which were supposed to implement the reforms.
In the morning, the protestors expressed their resolve that they would not return till their demands were met.
Talking to media persons, their leaders said they would proceed to Delhi if the assurances given in the past were not met.
Ramesh came to the marchers’ camp around noon with Raj Babbar, Congress MP from Firozabad, and in his half-hour speech promised full support for their demands and cause.
An agenda would be ready in six months and placed before the government for implementation, he said.
On Wednesday, the marchers camped in COD Ground on Gwalior Road here. Over the past three days, their representatives held several rounds of talks with central ministers and Congress leaders.
The marchers earlier shouted slogans, carried banners and flags and halted every 20-25 km on their way from Gwaliar to Delhi.
In Agra, activist Swami Agnivesh, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Communist Party of India-Marxist and Samajwadi Party leaders joined the marchers.
In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav earlier instructed his party workers in Agra to provide all help and support to the marchers.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati also extended support to the demands of the marchers. The Congress and the BJP leaders, including the Agra mayor, also assured full support.