Thursday, January 19, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Pakistan: Local organisations unite for Dalit rights

Local organisations unite for Dalit rights

Jan Khaskheli
Thursday, January 19, 2012

A dozen organisations working in Sindh for the rights of the
marginalised segments of society, have united to express solidarity
with Ekta Parishad, a movement for the protection of the land
ownership rights of Dalits in India.

A 350 kilometre walk from Gwalior to Dehli, called the Jan Satyagraha
or the 'march of justice', planned to begin in October, is being
dubbed as the biggest march in history by a federation of 900 Indian

Such groups in Pakistan recently held a meeting to plan rallies and
mobilise masses for the same cause. They discussed in the meeting that
Dalit land rights were non-existent despite the fact that they lived
in the same area for generations. Landlords force them to abandon
their lands on a short notice and those who resist face severe

In Thar and Kachho areas of Sindh, farmers spend months under the
scorching sun to cultivate lands but are not allowed to build shelters
on the same expanse. The meeting concluded that an alliance of
different organisations was necessary to root out the oppressive
system which frequently usurped the rights of the poor.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research's (Piler) Karamat
Ali said they were striving to raise the issue on South Asian level as
the obstacles faced by them were 'huge' and needed a stronger backing.

He suggested retrieval of the large chunks of land allotted to people
for different reasons. "Politicians must become sensitive to the
issues of these marginalised farmers before it's too late."

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said all those
who cultivated lands must have the "legal ownership rights" of the
land upon which they work. The meeting expressed dissatisfaction with
the PPP-led government's land reform policies as specific figures
about state land to be given away had still not come to the fore.

It was also pointed out that despite the looming food insecurity, no
steps were taken for allocation of the promised eight million acre of
land for corporate farming. It was concluded that meetings would be
held with key figures in district headquarters and legislators in
support of the campaign to be launched soon.


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