India

Indian tribals in Kerala end 'standing protest'

Tribal protest Image copyright Haris Kuttipuuram
Image caption The 'standing protest' went on for more than five months

Tribespeople in the southern Indian state of Kerala have ended a 'standing protest' after the government acceded to their demands

They had been standing outside a government office since 9 July to press their claim for land and amenities.

They were demanding that the government deliver on its promise of giving land, water and electricity to the community.

Tribespeople comprise nearly 500,000 of Kerala's 33 million people and are mostly landless and desperately poor.

The protesters, who had travelled to the capital, Trivandrum, from their faraway villages would stand uninterruptedly for nearly 11 hours every day outside the main government office.

They blamed the authorities for failing to keep their promise of providing them land and amenities agreed with a previous government in 2001.

The government says it has so far been able to provide more than 9,000 acres of land to 6,887 families.

But the protesters say the number of landless tribal families has now grown to about 75,000 - up from 35,000 during the 2001 protest.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Thursday that landless families would be "immediately" allocated more than 19,000 acres of land for their rehabilitation.

The remaining families would get land as soon as more cultivable land becomes available to the government, he said.

"This will go a long way in protecting their land and ensure their right to live in dignity," Mr Chandy said.

Protest leader CK Janu said the government had agreed to "100% of our demands", which would "ensure rights of livelihood and dignity of nearly half a million tribespeople" in Kerala.

"This is a historic win for our long struggle for land and self-rule," she added.

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