Demands Justice for the Fisherfolk and Original Dwellers of the Land
Mumbai May 31st, 2012: Despite severe resistance by the traditional fisher folk in Sion Koliwada, the Mumbai police and Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been going ahead with its demolition drive. The municipal officials, accompanied by the private builder, Mr. Sudhakar Shetty and a huge contingent of the RAF police today ruthlessly razed down the house of Kalpesh Shivkar of the Koliwada community. Despite the police and private security of the builder attempting to drive away the other community people who were protesting and resisting the demolition, the people were keen to stand by Kalpesh and afford support. About 50-100 women and men have been arrested while they were trying to give protection to Kalpesh’s family and neighbours whose house was demolished and needed shelter, since monsoon is at doorstep. The women were physically assaulted by the male police, who also pulled them by their hair. All this brutality by the police is totally condemnable. Surprisingly, after the demolition, while the people were trying to re-erect the houses, the builder brought in 20 muslim women to occupy the same place, which the locals questioned.
National Alliance of People’s Movements and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao (GBGB) Andolan wholly condemns this brutal move of the administration to evict the people from their decades old settlements, for no cogent public purpose, rather for the vested interests of a private real estate lobby. The demolition is not only unjustifiable, but is also fully illegal and in violation of the legal rights of the residents. GBGB also questions the entire project as a fraudulent one since false consent has been shown by the community, signatures of the locals have been manoeuvred and other serious irregularities have been committed by the developers. It is fact that more than 80% of the residents have not consented to the project, which makes the very project illegal.
It is shocking to note that the police has not yet registered cases filed by the people over the past few days as FIRs, ever since the eviction drive began. Moreover, despite the people pointing out specifically as to how certain police officials / personnel are siding with the builders and have demanded suspension of such officers, no action has been taken in this regard. The only ‘assurance’ that the police has given so far is to protect the municipal officials who may face any ‘harm’, during the demolition process. We express our deep disdain towards this approach of the State and seek to challenge the illegal arrests and detentions being made by the police for questioning the unlawful demolitions.
It may be noted that Koliwada, an indigenous fisherfolk Community has been living in the area even prior to independence. In 1939, the British constructed NSP sheds for their own security purposes and they were asked to move to this. These NSP Sheds then were taken over by the Municipal Corporation after Independence. Even though these fisher people have lived on the land for more than a century they have been denied their “right to land”, due to the unfair policies of the Britishers as well as BMC. Now in the name of so-called ‘development’, the State is evicting them and giving away the prime property to the Builders. The people continue to face the might of the JCBs, police and State with their resolve in non-violent, democratic struggle.
Please do condemn the atrocities against the original inhabitants of Mumbai.
Do Fax your letters of protest to the Chief Minister and Home Minister, demanding them to:
Break the growing unholy nexus between the politicians – police – builders in Mumbai.
Suspend the police officials, especially male police, who have used unjust force against the people and have abused the women and men in the name of ‘protesting the BMC officials’.
Lodge FIRs on the basis of complaints filed at various levels by Medha Patkar and others and initiate action against the erring officials and the builder lobby.
Shri Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister
Shri R.R. Patil, Home Minister
Fax: 91 22 22027174 / 22 22029742
For details and update call: Madhuri Shivkar 09892143242 / Madhuri Variyath 0982061917