June 13, 2005

We do not count

Three testimonies made to a public inquiry into the slum demolitions in Bombay earlier this year. These are quoted verbatim from the report of the inquiry. The report will be released at a press conference at 3 pm tomorrow (Tuesday June 14 2005) at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, near Azad Maidan.


"We have been staying in the slums near Bombay Mills for the last 20 years. I was 2-3 years old when my parents brought me here. After marriage for the last 20 years we have been staying in Panduram Gutkha road.

"Demolitions keep happening after every one or two years. They keep asking our whereabouts. Our small businesses such as selling flowers, utensils etc. suffer. Somehow we manage to earn. They always destroy our belongings.

"Still we have documents, made in 1995 as proof of identity. Bulldozers ran with two jeeps of police. Our houses were destroyed. Women were beaten. Children got burnt. We get water from a far off place. During the election the candidate, Naraware Dutta, promised electricity and water. The entire slum of 62 houses voted for him. When they ran bulldozers, he could not save us. When we met him, he expressed helplessness, saying the order came from above.

"During elections, they make false promises. We also want to pay rent as the rich do. We also want our kids to be well educated. But there is no right for poor. We also want to live as equals. We should get justice and the right to home."
    Kadwi Wagari, Elphinstone Road


"Our house is between pipe and sewage drain. If a child falls in gutter, you cannot even save them. We have been staying there for the last 30-35 years. Politicians come and promise. But we only contribute to get electricity, water etc. They never provide anything. I have four children – 3 girls and a son. Their study expenses etc. I have to afford myself. My husband expired. We face so much trouble. When BMC demolish, politicians show helplessness.

"If we protest against demolition, we are imprisoned and fined Rs 5000. All of us collect garbage. Municipality staff questions who asked us to construct earlier. They ask for bribes. How to give?

"On the 12th [January], they demolished houses. We have proof. We stay in makeshift arrangement there only."
    Parvandi Chinapa, Indira Nagar, Bandra


"I am Deepak Kumar Shiv Shankar Roy from Indira Nagar. We have been staying there since 1990. We have the registration of organization from 1995. Before that we had filed an application with DM against the demolition of 1993. We have voter ID card and Ration card also. But defying all documents, houses were demolished as if we were beggars and we do not count at all. Our houses were demolished. We were told to run away with our belongings or face legal action.

"In 2000, we were served notice to vacate and flee away. But we are poor. We live in area that has waist-deep water. We do not have any other option. In 2001, Raghunath Shankar Tambe, Tehsildar filed an MIDP case under Mumbai Slum Control Programme under 1971 Act 96 B against us. The police arrested us and framed all of us under cases. We are still fighting the case.

"On 14 December, the police came with the BMC and demolished all houses. Still we would not go anywhere. We are staying in makeshift arrangement there only. After that from 2-5 January, they cleared our houses totally. We are framed with case and on the other side our houses are demolished also.

"In 1995, BMC sanctioned a tap also for us. They took money to give us a tap and photo card also. We filled form for photo card. We are in deep trouble. 7-8 kids also died in the water-filled mud. The police threatens legal action if we do not vacate houses by 5 p.m.

"We met our Corporator, Zareena Sahibul, for a solution. But we were suggested to keep away from the police and protesting as they are helpless.

"Some children study in school. What will they do? The police tell us to catch any train and go back. Some people have identity proof. Others are asked to show ration card by elections office for making cards. For ration card, people are told to get voter card first. We are just tackled so mercilessly. I implore you to consider our case and help in getting justice."
    Deepak Kumar Roy, Indira Nagar 3, Maharashtra Nagar

1 comment:

Vikrum said...


Thank you for posting this. In the Times of India and other mainstream papers, slum dwellers and other poor people never get a voice.

In fact, it's just the opposite. Today's (Monday 13 June) TOI leads with two stories dedicated to the rich. The first is entitled "70,000 Indian millionaires... and growing: 14.6% surge driven by booming economy: report" while the second is entitled "5-star poors have high chlorine levels." I wonder about the percentage of Mumbaikers who regularly swim in 5 star pools... but apparently it's important news anyway.

It's good to see articles like this when the TOI fronts stories on Page 3 celebrities and 5 star pools.