Tens of thousands of landless poor in India have begun a march to the Indian capital, Delhi, demanding their right to land. The march began on Wednesday morning in Gwalior city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The protesters would cover the distance of about 350km (217 miles) to reach Delhi by the end of October.

On Tuesday, the government sent two ministers in an attempt to persuade the protesters to call off their march but they were unsuccessful. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Commerce Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia met the organizers – a non-governmental organization called Ekta Parishad – to accept the government’s promise that a draft national land reform policy would be prepared in six months.”Discussion is always a better option than agitation… Go home, we will find the middle path,” Mr Ramesh has told the protesters. But the protesters, mostly tribes people and landless labourers, insist that each of them must be given a piece of land.

The participants in the Jan Satyagraha (people’s movement) march say welfare programmes like the rural jobs for work scheme are no solution to poverty.They say only land and sustainable livelihood generation can achieve real poverty reduction and lift tens of millions out of poverty. The protesters say they plan to hand over a memorandum to the government to highlight the problems of landless poor.

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