Government rolls back on its promises to slum dwellers.
About the Video: Without any previous warning to the Mankhurd slum dwellers, the Brihan Mumbai Municipial Corporation (BMC) and the railway police razed their houses to the ground. Most of the displaced have lived here for over 20 years. They are bonafied citizens of Mumbai. They have ID cards, ration cards and elections cards. They had livelihood, possessions and families. Until this day when on the whim of the authorities, they lost all their rights and their homes. Their lives lie scattered in the debris.
On the fateful day, the police with lathis and bulldozers stood on one side while on the other side, families held their ground. Amidst the aggressiveness and tension of the moment, a youth from the slums, unable to accept that his home and life is soon going to crumble to pieces, snapped and pelted a stone at the other side. The reaction by the police was immediate and violent. In the ensuing conflict, the armed police spared none. Not even women and children. Four people had to be rushed to the hospital with serious injuries and many others suffered injuries and bruises.
When the community from Mankhurd filed an complaint with the senior police officer the verdict given was: The slum dwellers started the fight.
The Community Correspondent says: India Unheard Community Correspondent Amol Lazare is from Mumbai and since his childhood he has often visited Mankhund slums. He questions the actions by the police: “When I got the call, I rushed to the destruction ground but I got held up by the police. They did not want to let me in. Afterwards I was allowed to enter and I saw what had been done to one of the most vulnerable communities of Mumbai. I am devastated by the violence the police had inflicted. These are the people and the stories behind the prosperity of Mumbai.”
The Issue: According to a report by the Indian People’s Tribunal (IPT) on the legality of forced evictions in Mumbai, politicans come into the slums shortly before the next election and promise the slum dwellers protection. Once the party is in power the slum dwellers have to face the harsh truth: Their voices stay unheard!
The first time this happened the Congress Party claimed in their Manifesto that slums built before 2000 will not be destructed anymore. After wining the election the protection was severely cut down to houses built before 1995. In November 2004 the government started demolitions all over Mumbai. The IPT Panel visited three areas where peoples’ homes have been demolished, one of them is Mankhurd. They found out that an estimated 90,000 homes were demolished in 44 areas.
Some places have been destroyed about 17 to 18 times. The BMC must have spend around 300 Crores Rupees for the continuing demolition. On one house people invest more than Rs 50,000 over the years. This poses a larger question: What kind of rehabilitation is provided by the government to people, who face not just one but repeated evictions.
The destructions continue presently. But the citizens of the slums have still not been protected according to the promises made.
Call to Action: The community from Mankhurd slum requests the government to hold their promise to protect them from forced evictions. They demand for the accountability of the police forces that destroyed their houses and injured them. They ask the government to reimburse them for their repeated losses.
About the Community Correspondent: Amol Lalzare is a proud self-confessed denizen of Mumbai, the city that never sleeps. Born and brought up in the Sathe Nagar slums, he views the world from inside out and finds that the city he loves, seems to forgetting his people and leaving them behind. An experienced community producer, he realizes the urgency of having a voice and platform for marginalized communities, especially in times like this when the country is prone to bouts of selective amnesia. Watch Amol’s videos here.
“A Report on Forced Evictions and Housing Policies for the Poor in Mumbai 2005” Indian People’s Tribunal
Asian Human Rights Cooperation “Illegal and brutal eviction throws slum dwellers on to the streets in Mumbai” 21.01.2011
DEMOTIX “Forced evictions in the slums of Mumbai” 20.01.2011