Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday vowed to launch an indefinite ‘jail bhalo’ agitation from May 1, on the occasion of International Labour Day, till Narendra Modi government withdraws the controversial land acquisition bill, after a meeting of like-minded activist, who had converged at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sevagram from across the country.
The anti-graft crusader has been assailing the government's move to get the proposed legislation passed in Parliament calling it was as draconian as the ordinance.
After a marathon meeting — which began at 9 am and went on till 5.30 pm at Sevagram Ashram — it was decided that a “sangharsha yatra” would begin from Gandhi’s Sevagram Ashram on March 30 to mobilise public opinion against the land bill and reach Ramlila ground in Delhi on May 1 and culminate into ‘jail bharo’ agitation.
Hazare said that before embarking on the 1,100 km proposed Sevagram-Delhi ‘padyatra’, he would visit Bhagat Singh's village in Punjab on March 23, on the death anniversary of the iconic revolutionary and take an inspiration.
No political leader would be allowed on the stage at Ramlila ground in Delhi where the march would conclude, Hazare said. "If anyone indulges in violence or jail bharo agitation turn violent, I would immediately end the agitation," the 77-year-old activist warned.
Hazare has chalked out the campaign to put pressure on the Narendra Modi government against 'anti-farmer' provisions in the Land Acquisition Bill, taking cue from farmers' outfits. He had staged a two-day protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi last month during the Parliament's budget session and had received support from a number of farmers' groups.
Hazare had earlier rubbished Modi government's claim that the proposed land acquisition ordinance was “effective” and “farmer-friendly” and had even accused the government of trying to mislead the people. He had said that many clauses in the said ordinance — one of which being not seeking consent of 80% of the farmers — were actually not in farmers’ favour. Under the proposed law, a farmer whose land is acquired cannot be approached the court unless permitted by the government. Seeking legal redressal is every individual’s right, Hazare thundered.
Hazare had said that farmers' groups from various states staged protests last month, after which the Central government was to promise the farmers that if the Land Acquisition Ordinance was doing injustice to farmers they were ready to change it but that did not happen. “I am sending a letter to the Prime Minister Modi, suggesting changes in the proposed bill. Suggestions include: instead of acquiring land from farmers, the government give it to industrialists on lease and make them partners of the project, the government should undertake mapping of the land in the country and make gradation of land and immediately set up an agriculture commission in the country. Lets us see what action would be taken in our suggestions,” he added and informed that his team would launch an awareness campaign across the country from March 23 to March 25 for the proposed “sangharsha yatra” and “jail bharo” agitation.
A monitoring committee would be set up soon to ensure peaceful atmosphere during the “yatra” and “Jail Bharo” agitation. A 500 disciplined volunteers would supervise the proposed “yatra,” he said.
Answering a question, he said that if the government invites him for a discussion about the changes in the bill, he is ready to participate. “We are always open for dialogues, “he said. However, this government is more concerned about the “smart city”, ruing villages. “It should work for smart village concept that Gandhiji used to talk,” he quipped.
The decision to launch the ‘padyatra’ was taken after holding talks with peasant leaders and farmers' unions in order to put pressure on the government, he said. Besides, the sangharsha yatra from Sevagram to Delhi, farmers rallies are being organized in UP, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar and Punjab. “Farmers from these states would also join us in the jail bharo agitation on May 1,” he further said.
Meanwhile, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav who came here to attend another meeting at Sevagram was not allowed to attend Hazare’s meeting. Prominent among those who attended the meeting were Medha Patkar, Rajendra Singh, Rajgopal and Vishwambhar Choudhary.