Samwad Yatra Report, Day 60: Kolhapur, Maharashtra

The Yatra entered Maharashtra state in Kolhapur district in the morning. The Team was given a warm welcome at Kagal by the social activists and Sarvodaya Mandal. After garlanding Shahu Maharaj’s statue, the team attended a press meeting. Shri Venkappa Bhosle of Dalit Mitra, Abhasaheb Kamle, President of Maharshtra Pradesh Sarvodaya Mandal, Subash Lomte of NCCRW spoke on the present state of land struggle in Maharashtra and Kolhapur.

The struggle for land was strong in Kolhapur even before Independence. During the rule of Shahu Maharaj in 1902, there were 50% reservation for poor in army and administration. According to them, the basic cause for landlessness is the caste system that is still prevalent. The tribals worship Ravana but the other caste Hindus burn Ravana’s effigy on Holi marking the death of evil. Until this is changed the system will not change and caste difference will continue. In Kolhapur 25% are dalits. They have organized long marches in demand of land and livelihood. People migrate to Bombay to find employment in Textile industry, small business or in factories. MGNREGS is not implemented properly in the district.

Shri Abhasaheb Kamble pointed out that after Bhoodan movement; the government received 1800 acres of land of which 1200 acre has been distributed. Subash Lomte explained the objective of the Yatra. Rajagopal mentioned that the number of districts declared ‘naxal’  has increased from 80-160. The unrest among the youth, force them to turn to violence and naxalism. It is therefore the responsibility of every citizen in this country to pay attention in terms of providing due share in livelihood resources to the poor. He explained the three main agendas of Jansatyagrah Samwad Yatra and Jansatyagraha 2012 as:

  • Implement all pro poor acts already formulated
  • Reject anti poor policies
  • Formulate and bring a Comprehensive Land Reforms Policy

In the afternoon, the Team visited Khatule village in Gaganbhavda taluk where Dalit Mitra and Maharshtra Pradesh Sarvodaya Mandal had organized a public meeting. The villagers agve a grand welcome to the team.  Political leaders, local leaders, activists and voluntary organizations had participated. Every one of them reiterated that the fight for Jal, Jungle and Jameen would continue till they get it. In the land of reformers like Mahatma Phule and Sahu Maharaj, this discrimination cannot continue for long. The land has gone to higher caste people but during the rule of Shivaji, the land belonged to the tiller. It was made clear that if the government has land to companies, then the people should also be given land. Very often when it came to the tribals and dalits, the administration had reasons like ecological and environment protection, forest conservation etc. They unanimously asked the question, why target only the STs? We will protest till we get land.

Subhash Lomte mentioned that land has become a commodity – for investment purposes not for agriculture. The government is obliged to give employment education to reduce the caste- class differences. He added that in the present scenario this Yatra is a historic event for the rights of the landless.

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