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by safdar — last modified 2010-05-24 17:46

NFDLRM: A Sincere Endeavour to Focus on Dalit Land Rights

National Federation of Dalit Land Rights Movements (NFDLRM) is a nationwide mass movement initiated by more than 250 Dalit land rights movements/ struggles/ networks/ organizations from 16 states, primarily to focus issues of land and livelihood of Dalit communities in India from 2006. It is part of the four national movements [All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), Dalit Aarthik Adhikar Abhijan (DAAA), National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) and National Federation of Dalit Land Rights Movements (NFDLRM) promoted by National Campaign on
Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR).

 For French translation please click here:

Target Groups & Beneficiaries
Target Group: Dalit organizations, land rights movements, activists, media, civil society organizations, Gove ministries and departments, Human rights bodies and Courts at national, state and district level, policy makers,
people’s representatives, political parties, commissions and international bodies.

Final Beneficiaries: Dalit communities – land less poor, homeless, slum dwellers, migrant workers, displaced families agricultural workers, share croppers, small and marginal peasants, forest and fish workers, etc.


  • Mobilization and networking among Dalit land rights movements and alliance building with movements of other
    marginalized communities like Adivasies, agricultural workers and small farmers and fisher folk to wage a
    common struggle to ensure land
  • Documentation of the issues of land alienation ,land garbing and land lessness and related issues in the context
    of globalization and caste and its impact on Dalit land rights and dissemination of critical information to Dalits
    related to land and livelihood.
  • Propose to propagate alternative Land policy that reflects the Dalit prospective.
  • Capacitate youth, women and activists from among Dalit and marginalized communities to intervene on issues
  • Build up NFDLRM as a strong national platform to address the issue of land rights through democratization and
    decentralization of leadership and process of mass mobilization
  • Under take People based Advocacy from village to international level for the cause of Dalits right to land and
  • Holding the state accountable by using legal and constitutional means to ensure land for Dalits
  • To build contact with South Asian Dalit Platforms for promoting Land Struggles collectively – at the SAARC
    level. Initiate contact with land rights movements in Africa and in Europe for international solidarity and support
    for the cause of land rights for all.
  • NFDLRM: The Era of Activism
  • National Consultation on Dalit Land Rights, Bhubaneswar (August 2006)
  • Launch of NFDLRM & National Planning Meeting, New Delhi (December 2006)
  • South Zone Workshop, Villupuram (February 2007)
  • East Zone Workshop, Ranchi (March 2007)
  • North-West Zone Workshop, Simla (April 2007)
  • National Capacitating Training, New Delhi (July 2007)
  • National Consultation and Mass Dharna, New Delhi (February 2008
  • National Core Committee Meeting, Goa (April 2008)
  • National Core Committee Meeting, Bangalore (June 2008)


The Non-implementation of Land Reforms Policy

Dalits constitute about one fifth of total population of the country. Dalits are the caste discriminated communities in India. They are untouchables and discriminated on the basis of caste by birth. The practice of untouchability denied access to both private (rural and urban) land and community land in multi-caste villages, encouraged caste based occupation and forced labour and perpetuated organized atrocities against Dalits by upper caste. The State, with its four pillars – executive, legislative, judiciary, media & civil society is largely under-represented by Dalits, which leads to non-implementation of the constitutional mandates, laws, policies and programmes in the process of land reforms and land distribution. The state resources are being channeled to dominant castes in the name of development and privatization. Human Rights activists and organizations that have long been working on Dalits Rights increasingly felt the need for a nationwide advocacy on Dalit Economic Rights. Land, being the central to the Dalit livelihood and dignity has not been adequately addressed within Dalits Rights Movements at national level. Land is considered to be the
symbol of status, power and prestige in the caste hierarchy and it is one of the most important reasons for major caste atrocities in India. Lacks of consistent political will, bureaucratic apathy and judicial impunity combinedly made the Dalits deprive from constitutional mandates. The
social movements in the country raising the issues of displacement and livelihood rights have not linked the caste perspective since long. It is also felt that, this is because of limited representation in leadership and
decision making process, Dalits land rights issues have not received due visibility. Though few Dalit Organizations have been active in the issues of land rights, it is largely local, sporadic and disjointed. Globalization, liberalization and privatization, which paved new dynamics within caste,
livelihood and marginalization of role of the state, necessitated larger national platform to counter the prevailing onslaught.
Historically, Dalits are denied rights to land, education and political power. The social, economic and political relations are hierarchical and Dalits are in the lower ladder of the society in caste system, economically poor and politically marginalized. Land is one of the important productive assets, which is the source of life and livelihood and it is very much linked to identity, dignity, life and security of communities in India. About 80 percent of Dalit families are landless, they do not have land for housing, cultivation and cremation ground etc. Dalit families primarily depend on land for livelihood as agricultural workers, sharecroppers, small and marginal farmers. Landlessness leads to homelessness, distress migration, displacement, poverty, child labour, immoral trafficking, suicides and hunger death in many parts of the country. The democratic governments after the independence of India since 1947, have betrayed the dreams and aspirations of the freedom fighters and farmers of the modern India. The mandates of the constitution have been denied and the laws and programmes of the land reform and land distribution are not being implemented properly, rather the programmes helped the landlords and rich people mostly from dominant castes and upper class of the Indian society.
Dalits have been struggling hard against all odds, created by upper caste, state power and forces of privatization combine in the era of globalization to retain their lost dignity by accessing and developing land for a sustainable livelihood. The struggles of Dalit communities are being misinterpreted as anti-state and anti-development by upper caste & upper class ruling elites and international corporations, their struggle has also been characterized as casteist and communal. This is being done by
those who have hegemonic control over national resources like land, forest, water, minerals, education, national & statebudgets and political power. Resource less, defenseless and powerless Dalits-historically facing atrocities are loosing their lives, sources of livelihood, family and fighting against false court cases. They are sufferers and living in sub-human condition. They are forced by in jail Dharna on Dalit Land Rights in Delhi
dominant caste and state combine to work as manual scavenging, bonded labour, engaged in humiliating occupation in the name of caste based trade. The jobs like washing and cleaning, drum beating, shoe polishing, rickshaw pulling, cleaning and as domestic servants are being solely reserved for Dalit communities . Now the Indian upper castes are more powerful with international capital and state power in the name of globalization, liberalization and privatization.

In India, Dalit movements have been fighting for land rights by demanding land from respective state/ union territory governments. They are also engaged in demanding proper implementation of land reforms. But, most
state/ union territory govt. instead of giving rights of land to Dalits are denying it and giving land to industries. As we all know that it is only after independence the land rights of Dalits is recognized in our Constitution. Based on that, state/ union territory governments enacted land reforms so that Dalits get their land rights. But, this reform is never implemented seriously. Wherever Dalits attempted to access their land rights under the reform programmes, atrocities against them are committed. Land is one of the most important rights of Dalits as it ensures permanent livelihood & asset for us and it also remains for all our generations. Land ownership makes us feel secured and keeps us rooted. Nobody can uproot us if we have our own land.

State Contact Person  

1. National Secretariat, Manas Jena, NGS  NFDLRM 09437060797
 New Delhi    
2. Andhra Pradesh K. Vinay Kumar  Dalit Bahujan Front 09989135989
3. Maharastra Lalit Babar  Dalit Vikash Parishad 09869441502
4. Rajasthan Satish Kumar  Centre for Dalit Rights 09414059848
5. Bihar Kapileshwar Ram  Bihar Dalit Adhikar Manch 09835257960
6.  R. Biswabandhu  Jharakhand Dalit Adikar Morcha 093043 63559
7. Karnataka Ms. P. Yashodha  Sanchaynele 09845587502
8. Orissa Kalandi Mallick  Orissa Dalit Adhikar Manch 09938618390
9. Punjab Rajesh Kumar  Punjab Dalit Human rights 09988180680
10. Tamil Nadu C. Nicolas  Dalit Mannurimas Koottumaipo 09443241130
11. Utter Pradesh Ram Kumar  Dynamic Action Group 09412233057

12. West Bengal Sk. Ahammad Uddin Taj Mission 09434236234
13. Chhatisgarh Ms. Ajit Ekka Jana Jagruti Mancha 09300425104
14. Kerala R. Prakash IDADS 09895026178
15. Himanchal Pradesh Sukhdev Vishwapremi PCSEEH 09418425543


NFDLRM and the Land Struggle, in Some Parts of the World


Land, for the Feudal Lords and the Capitalists, is the ‘symbol for their socio economic status, a commodity to transact and a natural resource to exploit.’ For Dalits, the Burakus, the Minjuns, the Aborigines, the Romas, the Yozos, the Africans and the natives of Americas and Latin Americas, Land is a prime source for ‘identity, dignity, livelihood and social justice.’ Whether land was created or evolved, it was the accepted basic for the sustenance of human kind, promotion of cultures and dynasties. As history recorded, the same Land was the main reason for ‘wars and battles’ and ‘raise and fall of empires.’
According to Karl Marx, Land was nobody’s property in the primitive society and later it was owned by the community. At the emergence of Feudalism, like slaves land became the property of Kings, Chieftains and Feudal Lords. From then on, Land alienation took place and the people who lived, labored and protected the land were forced to become as Landless Laborers. Present day Capitalism and very particularly the new Liberalism narrowed down the concept on Land into a commodity for commercial operation. Land which was worshiped ‘God and Mother Earth’ was put into
market value, based on its location, the natural resources and the fertility it owns. For Dalits and other people who have mentioned earlier, Land is not an object or a commodity but it is ‘part and parcel of their life’ and ‘agriculture isthe way of their life.’ They venerate and protect land as they born, live and die in it and therefore it is a question of life, identity and dignity to them.
In the advent of democracy, the Governments formed all over the world were either supported by Feudal Lords or Capitalists and presently Companies and Transnational Corporations. This prompted maximum exploitation of Land and forced the people attached to the land to become ‘landless’, through massive eviction, displacement and migration thereby their lives became miserable in all socio, economic and political spheres. This injustice warranted the huge population of landless agricultural laborers to promote organizations and movements to involve in struggles
to assert Land for agriculture, housing, grazing and burial. All over the world, the countries whose main economic source is ‘agriculture’ brought Land reform legislations to control the resurgence of the agricultural laborers by ensuring assignment of minimum piece of land to satisfy their demands. However, since such governments are supported by the ruling class who are mainly feudal lords, rich farmers and the capitalists, they never wanted to loose their interest and ownership of land, and as a result, the Governments never cared for proper implementation
of the Land reform Legislations. This resulted in large scale struggles promoted by Peasants (those who own lands to produce for their livelihood and not for market) and agricultural laborers.
Other than NFDRLM the Land Rights Movement of Dalits, there exist many Organizations and Movements across India to pressurize the Indian Government to safeguard the concerns, interest and rights of peasants and agricultural laborers by implementing the various Land Reform Acts that are in force. They object to the new legislations that are in the offing, mainly to support the interest of the private and corporate sector in owning land. Despite such struggles the Government increasingly support interest of landlords, private and corporate sector companies which results large scale land alienation, displacement and migration. Nandigram, Singur, Chengara are some of the blatant examples. This is the same situation that prevails in many Countries of South Asia and South East Asia. Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and Burma are the good examples where Land Rights Movements are very active. Similarly the Aborigines of Australia, the Romas in Europe, the Yozos in Yemen, the Natives of Brazil and US, Africans particularly in Kenya and Zimbabwe are in constant struggle for retrieving Land for their dignity and livelihood.
VIACAMPACINA in Europe and Asia, MST in Brazil and Novox in France are some of the leading Land Rights Movements that operate beyond their borders. 21st century commenced to witness such Movements who strengthen struggles in many parts of the world to challenge the alarming dynamics of the corporate sector which exploit land and other natural resources to maximize their business and profits. The big or rich farmers also shift their cropping pattern ‘from food based to market based’ just to increase their bank balance. If it is allowed to continue, it amounts not only
detrimental to the very existence of all these marginalized people but also horrendous to Nature and the will of God. As these Movements need to join in a single platform to declare that we have got a right ‘only to use the land for our basic living’ and equally a greater responsibility to ‘keep it in tact for the future generation.’ More so, Land is a source not only for the ‘human beings’ but also for all other ‘living beings.’ NFDRLM and all other such movements with in and outside India, have a very crucial role to play to save this planet especially the Land, with the slogan ‘Another world is
possible’ and that should be taken care of by Dalits and other discriminated people in the world, since they alone envision for a better world with equality, justice and peace.

Jai Bhim!




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