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Senior activists form new anti-land acquisition bill forum, chalk out plans for agitation

Medha Patkar
By Our Representative
Anti-Modi land rights activists have announced the formation of Joint Forum against the Land Acquisition Bill-2015. The occasion of the announcement was March 23, 2015, the anniversary day on when Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru laid down their lives for the freedom of India.
The National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of rights-based bodies, announcing the new forum, said it was necessary to “intensify the struggle against corporate loot” of land and natural resources through the Land Acquisition Bill, 2015.
“While the country is free from the imperialistic powers, the poor and marginalised of this country are still not free from the clutches of exploitative policies that in the name of ‘development’ snatch away hard-earned rights and our resources”, the NAPM said.
In order to “celebrate” the historic day as the land rights day, it held several programmes and rallies to “remind” the government that its “anti-people moves shall be met with fierce opposition”, said NAPM.
“A signature campaign has been started all over the country to demand cancellation of land bill and assert land rights. Land rights day was celebrated as part of the larger, countrywide call of resistance that has been given out by the Joint Forum against the Land Acquisition Bill-2015”, it added.
In Delhi, NAPM said, senior activists Medha Patkar, Bhupendra Singh Rawat, Rakesh Rafiq and many others participated in the programme organised by the youth involved with people’s movements. Cultural activist Arvind Gaur and his team ‘Asmita’ set the tone of the event by performing a street-play and songs of resistance.
Speaking at the programme, Patkar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s argument that the Land Bill is not anti-farmer is both “inaccurate and propagandist”. 
She asserted that the Bill is “completely anti-farmers anti-workers and is meant only for easy transfer and forcible acquisition of land for corporations by the government, without any consent of the land owners and those dependent on it for their livelihood or conducting any social impact assessment.”
Meanwhile, the newly-formed forum announced collection of five crore signatures, holding village padayatras, mass conventions at state and district levels across India. It will hold “dialogue with the political parties and meeting of core organizing groups on April 2 to decide future course of struggles in Delhi.
The forum said, “The government is under pressure from several quarters on the Land Acquisition Bill and political posturing is ongoing on a daily basis.” It added, activists have finalized state-level meetings before April 14, 2015, district-level mass conventions before April 30, 2015, village-level padayatras and signature campaign before May 15, 2015.

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