The beginning of Ekta Parishad and development of its core issues
Ekta Parishad was formally established in 1991. The initial emphasis of the movement was on access to forest resources because of the large population of tribal communities. Later, it became evident that right to land was the most critical issue due to displacement. Without right to land, people were being constantly displaced, disenfranchised and debased. Focus now shifted to forced evictions, indebtedness, alcohol trade, and nistar rights (usufruct rights related to the collection of forest produce). Gradually, Ekta Parishad developed its capacity to mobilize communities to speak on their own behalf and strengthened its base for the larger struggles for land and livelihoods rights that would be the future of its work. Here are some of the main events that occurred during this period:
- 1993-1994: Land problems were for the first time taken up at the state level. 7,000 applications were given to the Madhya Pradesh government for action.
- 1994: Land Day was organized, during which the voice of the deprived communities was raised through many different rallies, demonstrations at the district and local levels across the state of Madhya Pradesh.
- 1996: A big rally of 20,000 people was organized on the World Human Rights Day and applications were handed over in the form of a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.