The Straits Times
Published on Oct 03, 2012

Thousands of India's peasants begin long march for land rights


NEW DELHI (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Indian peasants began a 350-kilometre march on Wednesday to New Delhi to protest the plight of marginalised communities excluded from the country's economic development.

The gathering of the poorest of the poor left the central city of Gwalior and is set to reach India's capital in 26 days, the organising activist group Ekta Parishad (Unity Forum) said in New Delhi.

"Some 35,000 people have started off from Gwalior and by the time they reach New Delhi we expect the number to swell to 100,000," Parishad spokesman Aneesh Thillenkari said.

Parishad chairman P.V. Rajagopal put the number at 50,000 with people drawn from 25 states of India. The trek is the second since 2007 when 25,000 poor and debt-ridden farmers travelled the same route on foot to press for land rights. Eleven of them perished en-route, organisers said.