January 22, 2005

Ambujwadi 3: Impressive letterhead

One of the pieces of paper the Pardhis give me is a copy of a letter from one Ramdas Athavale. A long-time Dalit leader in Maharashtra, Athavale is now a MP with the party he has successfully split to the point that it's just him: the Republican Party of India (RPI). In 1994, Athavale was Minister of Transport and Prohibition in Sharad Pawar's Maharashtra Government. And in that capacity, but also because he is a Dalit leader, Athavale wrote this letter on his official Ministerial letterhead to Arun
Gujarathi, Minister of Urban Affairs, on February 17 1994 (note that date):

Pardhi families have lived in Survey no 265 [a reference to the land on which Ambujwadi stood] in Malvani, Malad for many years. People from this community have to submit themselves to police interrogation frequently. They believe this is an injustice to them. They are even being prevented from setting up house in one place. It has been brought to my notice that there are 500 huts belonging to this community here and they are being demolished. I request that the huts not be demolished before their rehabilitation and that the families be allowed to continue to live in this place until then.

I saw no evidence that anyone had been rehabilitated before their huts were demolished. I also saw no evidence of the Honourable Mr Athavale.

No comments: