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Novel protests a way out to draw govt's attention

Bhopal, Nov 16, 2012, (PTI) :

With dharnas, rallies and fasts not drawing much attention from the government, people in Madhya Pradesh have resorted to unique ways of protests that have been taken notice of and provided some relief to protestors.

In the last few months, Madhya Pradesh witnessed three different kinds of protests that drew the attention of media and the government.

A couple of months back, villagers held a 'Jal Satyagraha' against submergence of fertile land in Khandwa and Harda districts of the state by standing in neck-deep waters.

Last month, a 'Jan Satyagraha' march from Gwalior to Delhi was taken out by the landless tribals and farmers under the banner of Ekta Parishad.

Currently, a 'Chita Satyagraha' (protest by sitting over unlit funeral pyres) is being held since the last fortnight by the farmers in Katni district of the state against proposed land acquisition for a power plant.

"The government and the local administration have become so insensitive towards democratic way of protests like dharna, holding rallies, road blockades and fasts that those staging it hardly get anything out of it, forcing them to resort to methods like 'Jal Satyagraha' and 'Chita Satyagraha'," Janata Dal(U) state unit president Govind Yadav said.

"After the affected persons staged the 'Jal Satyagraha' and media highlighted it, the government woke up and took measures to sort out the problems," Narmada Bachao Andolan's (NBA) Alok Agrawal said.

Only when people took up a novel way of protest that they were able to force the government to act on their persisting problems, Agarwal said.

Following the 'Jal Satyagraha', Madhya Pradesh government had deputed three senior ministers to talk to the protestors and solve their grievances and agreed to lower the reservoir level, as demanded by them.

However, government is yet to yield to the demands of farmers staging 'Chita Satyagraha' against their land acquisition for a power plant.

Bhopal Group for Information and Action's Rachna Dhingra, who is fighting for the rights of the gas tragedy victims for a long time, alleged, "The way things are going on in the country, specially the way land is being acquired for big projects, it appears that the nation is not being governed by any government, but by MNCs and big corporate houses."

People are left with no option except to hold protests in a unique manner as they are losing their land, which is their only means of livelihood, she said.

The 'Jan Satyagraha', launched under the banner of Ekta Parishad, in which over 50,000 farmers and tribals took part, forced the government to depute two Union Ministers (Jairam Ramesh and Jyotiraditya Scindia) to address the issues raised by them.


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