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Christian Aid visits PACS

27 October 2011 Share: facebook share twitter share

Mr Paul Valentin, International Director at Christian Aid UK, visited intervention areas of Ekta Parishad and Jansahas - organisations supported by PACS - in the Raisen and Dewas districts of Madhya Pradesh, during 27-29 October 2011.

He met with the Bhilala tribe and Dalit families, to gain a greater understanding of the issues of deprivation, exclusion and discrimination faced by them.

Slideshow: Christian Aid visits Ekta Parishad


The issue of land and livelihood rights of tribals

Mr Valentin visited two villages, Panjher and Kairichauka, in the Obedullaganj block of Raisen district on 28 October 2011. While Panjher is located in the middle of Ratapani Sanctuary and presented a good example of where community mobilisation by Ekta Parishad resulted in 54 households of the 57 in the village getting land entitlements under the Forest Rights Act. Kairichauka presented the case of ongoing struggle of the community for entitlements of their land. However, both these villages are devoid of basic facilities like electricity and water and have not been able to fully reap the development benefits of the ongoing government programmes.

Mr Valentin discussed a host of issues with the communities, including entitlements under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), health and education, the public distribution system (PDS) and the bottlenecks people face in asserting their rights and entitlements.

A short profile of these villages and the issues they face is included in the PDF below.

Understanding the issues of manual scavenging, bonded labour and atrocities on Dalits

On 29 October 2011 Mr Valentin visited two villages - Bhanwrasa and Bisakhedi in the Dewas district. In both of these villages he interacted with the members of Dalit communities and discussed the issues of manual scavenging, bonded labour and incidences of atrocities on Dalits.

In Bhanwarasa, women from Valmiki and Haila Muslim communities shared their experiences of the practice of manual scavenging and the resulting 'untouchability' and discrimination that they have to face in every sphere of their lives. The women said that, even after leaving this inhuman practice, they and their children constantly struggle to find an equal place in society. They also shared testimonies of their struggle to leave manual scavenging and how Jansahas acts as a catalyst to facilitate this process.

In Bisakhedi, Mr Valentin interacted with some of the liberated bonded labourers from the village. The village still has 10 bonded labours waiting to be freed. He heard about their struggle to come out of it. He was also briefed about the incidences of atrocities and violence against Dalits in cases where they had challenged the dominant power structures of the village.

Mr Valentin said that he was moved and impressed with the steadfastness, power and courage the communities have taken to start their own liberation. He was thankful that he was accepted and welcomed by the people and that they shared their situation and struggle with him.

He emphasised that it is injustice and an unacceptable thing that basic services are denied to them, that their rights are violated and the fact that they are discriminated against because of their identity.

A short profile of these villages and the issues they face is included in the PDF below.

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