Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Brute State

Anita from Aniamit, in this post writes, about Mandala -- a basti in Deonar that was unfairly demolished without providing adequate notice to the slum-dwellers. A few days back, the police put up a notice asking the slum dwellers to vacate the basti within 12 hours. The minimum time mandated by law is 24 hours (I feel that's inadequate too). The slum dwellers gathered to protest and when the slum was set on fire. A lathi-charge followed.

Most of these slum dwellers are people with proof of residence till 2000. They have the right to be there.

It is not that I am a big fan of the slum cause. A slum is usually an encroachment (probably always) and yes, slums are an eyesore. But having said that, people live in slums out of necessity and not out of choice (and this slum is right next to the Deonar dumping grounds). Burning bastis and lathi-charging people is not the way the state should go about cleaning slums. And if the slum dwellers have proof of residence till 2000 and are legit, there's no way that the state can walk in one day and wipe out their homes. Rehab and relocation have to be provided -- the state simply cannot abdicate its responsibility in this case.

There are probably quite a few more dimensions and angles to this issue that I don't know about or will never understand. But I do feel that prima facie the state has committed a grave injustice and has been very unfair to the residents of Mandala.

The Narmada Nav Nirman Abhiyan is coordinating relief work for the slum dwellers. Donations in cash and kind for the Mandala residents can be sent to: Narmada Nav Nirman Abhiyan, Pervin Jehangir261, Jupiter Apts, 41, New Cuffe Parade, Bombay - 5.

Read Anita's post on the subject here: A city of many realities.

Please help spread the word.

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