Friday, March 25, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Hundreds of lives reduced to rubble in Delhi: Paul Divakar

http://kafila.org/2011/03/25/delhi-jj-demolition-baljit-nagar-gayatri-colony-paul-divakar/

Hundreds of lives reduced to rubble in Delhi: Paul Divakar
March 25, 2011
tags: Dalits, housing, slum demolitions in Delhi, urban poor
by Shivam Vij

Guest post by PAUL DIVAKAR


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This was written yesterday, 24 March 2011: Today we witnessed most
humiliating, fascist nature of pulverising already vulnerable
communities – most of whom are Dalits and backward castes in Gayatri
colony near Faridpur of Baljit Nagar.

Mobilised by Indu Prakash and Hemalatha and supported by HRLN, we
(NCDHR, Safai Karmachari Andolan, Centre for Social Equity and
Inclusion) all gathered near the Gayatri colony along with an initial
group of about 200 residents of the colony. Already many houses were
demolished yesterday (23 March) and today the DDA authorities with a
support of 1000 posse of armed police with 6 bull dozers and Proclaine
machines were all set to raze to ground the rest of the colony. When
we challenged the authorities as to on what grounds they were doing
this, they flashed court order which ruled in favour of the DDA the
property near the Ramjess grounds. No prior notice was given on the 23
March, residents were not warned of the demolition, they were not
given any time to collect their belongings stored in the huts or
'juggis'. when some elders resisted on the 23 March they were lathi
charged and assaulted.

We warned them they they are violating the Delhi high court order of
eviction procedures and all established norms of human rights. The
authorities of DDA insited they hae the authority to demolish in the
high handed manner they have carried out previously. We also pleaded
with them that the court ruling is going to reach as our advocates are
already in the High Court but we were threatened of obstructing the
public officials of duty! The residents were peaceful and finally when
the Bulldozers were order to demolish they cried and looked on.

Another 250 houses were demolished from 12.45pm till 3.30pm. The total
number of houses there was around 600.

HRLN advocates Jayshree and Sukti informed us of the order from the
High court issued by Justice. Muralidhar and later came with the
order. Though the Delhi Court order was telephonically communicated
of stay on the DDA's action, the officials went about demolishing the
homes of the residents. Finally after a stiff argument from Indu and a
telephone call from higher authorities the DDA officials withdrew.

But already most homes were destroyed and decimated! The lives of
students shattered during examinations. Pregnant women and children
thrown on the roads, out in the open, vulnerable to disease,
belongings worth many lakhs destroyed. 80% of the victims ae Dalits,
and since the officials are guilty of willful negligence, this should
attract the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

Dr. Amod Kumar of St. Stephen's Society came to investigate and report
the matter the chief secretary. He agreed to testify before the High
Court in favour of the residents tomorrow when the case comes up for
hearing.

A team from IGSSS and NCDHR sat with the victims to take signed list
of the details of documentation available of the residents, like
Electiricity bills, gas bills, voters ID issues and some also of the
house tax they paid. Some told of the amounts collected by the DDA
officials even as late as on the 22 March promising of protection from
demolitions.

Tomorrow (25 March) the case will be up for hearing in the High Court.
We are ready with about 150 details of the documentation explaining
the long standing nature of the colony and peacful occupation of the
'joggis' by teh residents. HRLN advocates are ready with the petitions
and affidavits drafted for the case tomorrow.

Those of us involved in the protection and promotion of human rights
and also of inclusion efforts need to have a clear strategy of how to
equip the residents of Delhi to face and prevent such inhuman attacks
and atrocities by the state officials.

I am attaching some photographs of demolition.

While we can congratulate each other on the initial success of the
stay on the demolition we do have a long struggle and home work to do
in organising and equipping the residents of their right to life and
dignity in this atrocious city of Delhi


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