The surrender of dacoits in the Chambal Valley and their subsequent rehabilitation gave me an opportunity to learn that nonviolent social transformation was possible. Therefore in the 80s we undertook training of hundreds of rural youth to find nonviolent ways of resolving the problems of the villages .Young men and women who had received these training, returned to their villages, and at their own level, tried to organize the villagers, and through local organizations , attempted to solve the problems they faced, through nonviolent means.
Drawing inspiration from this process, an organization called Ekta Parishad was formed. The goal of Ekta Parishad is to address the problems of the villages as a united force, rather than as single individual, thereby influencing change in policies on a large scale. Through marches, assemblies, meetings and conferences, Ekta Parishad has been successful in mobilizing public opinion on the issues of peoples control over issues around control of livelihood resources like land, forest and water, at a larger scale. During 2000 to 2007, Ekta Parishad undertook dialogues with the State and National governments and was able to influence the existing policies on land and livelihood to some extent.
Janadesh in 2007 brought 25000 marginalized people from Gwalior to Delhi, marching for one month, and remaining clam and peaceful, in spite of 11 people losing their lives on the way. They were successful in putting pressure on the Central Government that lead to the announcement of National Land Reforms Council. Following in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan, Ekta Parishad has made its presence felt world over, as an organization working for socio-economic change for the marginalized in the society. Many young people from various countries do come to Ekta Parishad to learn about the non-violent methods peoples advocacy.
Eminent Gandhians, and social workers like Dr. S N Subba Rao, Shri Bal Vijay Ji, Shri Rajiv Vora, Shri Rajendra Singh, Shri Yogendra Parekh, Yathish Mehta and many more are associated closely with Ekta Parishad. A Gandhian organization which has always been adopting nonviolent techniques in its work for peace and social justice, should not be accused of being a supporter of any violent movement. Unfortunately some people and organizations, who are uncomfortable with the growing outreach and influence of Ekta Parishad, have been responsible for spreading malicious propagandas. Some people occupying positions in the Government are also entertaining this propaganda against Ekta parishad
This is time understood that, those who believe in Gandhian philosophies are not people who tolerate injustice silently, but at no circumstances they will adopt the path of violence. No propaganda can ever stop Gandhian workers from striving for change and working towards just society. Organizing people for their rightful claims cannot be denied in a democratic society, just because it pinches a few.
Through this open letter I wish to clarify my position and also challenge all those who are engaged in the propaganda against organizations promoting non-violent actions in the interest of marginalized people. I am open to any action against me, if there is a basis of justifying that our actions are anti-democratic or any examples of provocative statements from me or my colleagues. On the contrary, I have constantly appealed to the society to shun violence and have also requested various governments to respond to Non-Violent actions, so that people don’t take to violence out of frustration.
Let me take this opportunity to state that if the elected governments do not engage in social movements in dialogue, in order to resolve problems, it will only be indirectly feeding into violence as we see happening across the globe. Therefore it is important to respect those who are promoting non-violent techniques to solve problems of the communities, rather than making wild allegations.
By proving that non-violence can work in a democratic system, you will be encouraging even those, who took to the path of violence to come back and be part of the mainstream of change. I hope those who are misguided into violence and into false propagandas, will understand that this is time to correct themselves.
President, Ekta Parishad