December 28, 2008

life in general: mockery of democracy in india

It continues -- the mockery of democracy in India. The politicians of all political parties, the Indian Administrative Service bureaucrats and the puppet police all continue to browbeat those people of India who are poor or those whose rights are deliberately not protected.

India, my country, as I have said before on my blog here, is caught between the devil and the deep sea. On the one hand you have brilliant but morally corrupt influential politicans/bureaucrats/technocrats like Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Kamal Nath and Montek Singh Ahluwalia who through their policies and actions are devastating the poor and voiceless people of India along with brutally eliminating the rich ecology of India, and on the other hand you have the religious/casteist extremists such as Narendra Modi, L K Advani, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Maywati and others who are also corrupt in their own way.

Below is a latest instance of forced displacement of a people's community by the government using the pathetic IAS machinery and police machinery. In any self-respecting developed nation such a thing would be considered as a disgrace.

Date: 2008/12/28
Subject: [nbapresslist] Condemn Bhaimrao wada Slum Evictions: Write to concerned authorities for action



On the eve of the 122nd formation day of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh,
the government coming to power in the names of the poor and the
dalits-marginalized, demolished Bhimrao Bada an 80 years olg (4 generations) a
slum community. As the name suggests, the Basti named after Bhimrao alias
Babasaheb Ambedkar faced the brutal attack apparently for the plans to expand
or rebuild Ghandi Bhavan, this time in remembrance of not Mahatma but Indira!

The demolition that took place at 4 am with a 'sena' of bull dozers, and a huge
(hundreds, strong police force) was surprisingly just the day when
Rashtrapatiji Pratibha Patil was here! Is the timing deliberately chosen? If
not anything else, the early warning time when it was still dark was, for sure
to avoid people's resistance.

Since, right now the Courts would remain closed till end of the year 2008! In
the process there was no notice issued and if at all, the government could only
claim of warning the residents only on the basis of notices issued months
before but not 24 hours before, as is required to be done!

The bulldozing of this 80 years old community with pukka houses, built with the
sweat and blood of the families of men and women in unprotected work, many of
the families being single- widow headed was no doubt brutal. Force was used by
male and female police who pulled the hair, lifted persons, even lathi charged
but without leaving a wound to leak! Many of the hard earned belongings of the
working class families were broken or destroyed. Many of the families belonging
to the Gangapurtra clan were originally fish workers but now engaged in various
other forms of unprotected work.

The children, women and the aged, all were arrested for peaceful protest. When
the brother of Chiranjivi, the nearly emerged political 'actor' was also
arrested while standing by the screaming people, politicians came in with a
competitive yet supportive spirit and none else but Chandra Babu Naidu along
with CPI (M) leaders too courted arrested. The activists of people's
organisations, Sister Selvin, Ashfaqullah & Bilal of CHATRI were spared, but
targeted for entering the land full of rubble.

The scene of demolition which has no place in the national slum policy which
speaks mainly of regularisation, improvement and development of urban slums was
no doubt violation of human rights but also a blatant legal violation. First
and the fore most, this 'notified' i.e regularised slum that was suddenly
de-notified in April was knowingly to give way to the Congress Party use the
land to build its new office- 'Indira Bhawan', close to the present one, Gandhi
Bhawan. The land in possession of the 95 families on which many a civic
amenities were also provided with lakhs of rupees worth expenditure, by the
Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, was to be transferred not for a public
purpose but for party's political purpose- which is obviously a fraud.

The basic issue here is one of right to the land on which a poor locality
exists. While the corporates are getting lands leased out at throw away prices,
the urban poor do not have any right, not even usufructory right to the land
under their habitats since generations. It, therefore becomes easy to evict the
community even without its consent and force' unwilling 'rehabilitation' on to
them. The claim made in the case of Bhimraowada by State government of AP has
been that the houses for them are ready at Dhobighat area, 3 to 4 kms away. The
families evicted are, therefore, dumped forcibly into the new buildings with
the remaining belongings by the police and authorities.

When we visited this resettlement site this morning at around 7.30 am, we found
the women and youth to be furious about the forcible eviction and the brutality
of the police authorities. The officials present were only of the Municipal
Corporation of Hyderabad who had this excuse to say that they were there to
provide civic amenities and had nothing to do with eviction. The people were
however questioning them and calling them a part and parcel of the State. The
houses were not acceptable to the families for more than one reason. First and
foremost those are far away from their earlier place of residence especially
for toiling women. Secondly, out of 95 families at Bhimrao wada, about 20 are
left out of the list unilaterally prepared by the Govt authorities. We found
out that one or two members of larger families were left out and hence the
grievance. There were even widows who were excluded and the same was found to
be very painful and unacceptable.

These poor families living on hand to mouth existence found that the new houses
were almost the same size of their earlier ones and found no reason for their
displacement, even while the right to land was not recognised. Why could not
they be rehabilitated there only as they were promised at various times earlier
and also during the dialogue that was brokered by the local MLA is a question
that remains unanswered?

It is obvious to us that the land grab the Congress Party was related to the
fact that the Bhimrao Wada was located in an elite area while they are now
dumped in ''garib nagar" a vast area with many kinds of unprotected workers
residing. We also found that the land under the new buildings indeed belonged
to two communities of fishermen and washermen, the fight amongst themselves
over the right to land which happened to be a graveyard (the remnants we could
even see today) has gone to the court although, we are yet to see the papers
which, we are told, include a contempt petition. The resettlement offered to
the evicted families cannot, therefore, be accepted in this form and unless the
land rights issues are resolved and the people of Bhimrao wada find it to be

The slogan of the people her, as elsewhere, is "Let us live where we were". The
political parties having joined the struggle, even if with the upcoming
elections in mind, has no doubt helped the people, while the Congress has given
them an opportunity which can be considered as most unstrategic, with TDP
declaring a state wide protest day. We, the people's organisations, with CHATRI
our ally in Hyderabad working with Bhim Rao wada and other bastis have to
prepare ourselves to prevent the divide and rule politics and ensure that
politicisation of such issues do not lead to further betrayal. Kumarayyia the
local leader, with Rukmini and other women leaders are up against state
atrocities and for their right to livelihood and shelter both.

Let no Bhawan in the name of Gandhi, Bhimrao or Nehru become a cause of
deprivation and engine of destitution for the poor that continues to be part of
the urban development and is protested and challenged to by in every city and

Do raise your voice against this injustice and make your protest known to the

Fax/E-mail your letters

 Dr.Buta Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes
Fax: 011- 24632298; E-mail:

 Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission
Fax: 011-23384863; E-mail:

Shri Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy, Chief Minister. Andhra Pradesh
Fax: 040-O23452498, 23454828 (Res) 23410555 ; E-mail:

 Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, Indian National Congress
Fax: 011- 23018651; E-mail:

 Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission
Fax: 040-24601573; E-mail:

Medha Patkar Ramakrishnam Raju,
National Convenor, NAPM Convenor, Andhra Pradesh

Sister Selivin and Ashwaq bhai Bilal bhai
Campaign for Housing and Tenurial Rights Human Rights Forum

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