New Delhi, April 8 : NAPM condemns the high-handedness of the Kolkata police and ongoing slum evictions in Nonadanga. Earlier last month nearly 3,000 hawkers were evicted on EM bypass in the name of four laning of the EM bypass. Actions like this are not expected from a government which won the mandate precisely on its anti displacement stance. We do hope the government will immediately release the arrested activists, slum dwellers and restore the livelihood of all those evicted and put halt to any further eviction in the name of development.
Read on the details as received from Sanhati http://sanhati.com/articles/
April 8, 2012 : Demonstrators protesting against slum evictions arrested during protest meeting in Kolkata
Message received from activists in Laal Bazaar Police Station : 69 people including many women and children were arrested today morning around 1130 am while the meeting was continuing peacefully. Sanhati members Samik, Parag, Abhijnan and Partho have been arrested along with many other activists. Peoples spirits are high. The movement will go on.
Earlier : a day long sit-in demonstration to protest against Nonadanga slum demolition and forcible eviction, started at Ruby junction around 10am.
For the last one week, the evicted people are staying in an open field under the scorching sun and the blinding rain, facing police repression, but have refused to move away.
7 April 2012
Letter to CM from residents of Nonadanga
Translated by Riten Mitra
We are a total of about 150 households and Nonadanga grounds has been our home for quite some time. Some of us have been here for the last two years, some six. There is another colony consisting of about 100 families, with an estimated mean population of about seven to eight hundred. We had all come to stay here from different parts of West Bengal. For the last 34 years, we have been victims of severe deprivation, working as cheap labor and trying hard to make ends meet in times of scarcity. Now we are to be ousted again. Where shall we go from here?
It is your government that replaced the old one for one, Tapasi Mallik. Then how could you drive away seven to eight hundred families at one go ? If we were just one or two households, like in the past, the shock would have been less. Are we to understand that the land which was deemed useless by the government, for the last 50 to 60 years, is now suddenly required ?
We are a group of helpless poor who have reached the limits of desperation. We appeal to you for the last time with the hope that you can come here and see our daily living conditions for yourself. If Didi could rush to the scene for one Tapashi Mallik, then she could surely hear the voices of 800 poor people and come here to see us. We look forward to seeing her. We hope that she comes and sees us.
Nonadanga Majdur Palli
South 24 Parganas
Report of brutal lathicharge on protest by evicted slum-dwellers
by Partho Sarathi Ray
5 April 2012
Video : Clash at Ruby More
On 4th April, the Kolkata police conducted a brutal lathicharge on a peaceful protest rally of slum dwellers who have been evicted over the past one week from their hutments in Nonadanga in south Kolkata. Nonadanga is the area where slum dwellers evicted from various canal banks of Kolkata are being resettled over the past five years under the BSUP (Basic Services to Urban Poor) scheme of JNNURM. The resettlement projects have been run by KMDA (Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority) and KEIP (Kolkata Environmental Improvement Project) who own the land in the area, although no basic services or amenities for the families sent to this area, such as schools or health services were provided. Nonadanga also became a place where many other families, escaping the ravages of hurricane Aila, or failed crops and indebtedness in their villages, came and settled. They had to pay Rs 5000 to Rs 10000 to the local CPI(M) or Trinamool Congress bosses, in order to be allowed to build hutments on the vacant land lying around. It is these people who are being evicted now, their shanties demolished and burnt down by KMDA and the police, as they are being labeled as “encroachers”. The real reason behind this is that the land in Nonadanga, very close to a major intersection on the E M Bypass, is a prime target of real estate developers, and these “encroachers” have to be removed in order to make this land available for “beautification”.
Last week the KMDA, went on a demolition drive, in spite of an appeal by the slum dwellers to the urban development minister Firhad Hakeem. The latter openly stated that all “illegal” settlers would be evicted. Around 200 shanties were bulldozed, and all belongings of these families were destroyed. Since then, around 150 families are staying out in the open, in the scorching sun, and their only means of sustenance is a public kitchen being run by some Leftist youth and political organizations which have come forward in solidarity with the slum dwellers. Yesterday, the evicted people had tried to take out a rally towards the E M Bypass road, but the police first prevented them from reaching the road, and then lathicharged. The rally, consisting of many women and children, was broken up in this brutal manner and many people have been injured. Women were beaten up mercilessly by male police. A pregnant woman named Rita Patra was injured and has been hospitalized. A 3 year old child Joy Paswan has had his head fractured by a police lathi. Many activists who were in the march were also beaten up in a targeted manner. However, the slum dwellers have not shifted from their demand of proper rehabilitation and compensation and would be marching to the office of the urban development minister today.
The government of “maa, mati, manush” of Mamata Banerjee has shown its true colours, evicting the “manush” from the “mati” and beating up the “maa”, all in order to hand over the commons land of Kolkata to the corporate land sharks in the best traditions set up by the previous CPI(M)-led government.