It rained in Ejipura yesterday after I left. Hadn’t thought at all about inclement weather given the climate here in Bangalore. But it seems that passing out better tarps (most families are making due with old plastic political banners torn down around the neighborhood) and raincoats.
There is a metal fence around the entire perimeter of the old slum in Ejipura now. It’s hard to see inside. Most of the same families who have been living on its periphery still remain, steadfastly waiting to acquire suitable housing that they can afford.
Most of the families left behind are Tamil. And yesterday there were Tamil posters plastered about Ejipura comparing the Indian government officials’ responsibility in the uprooting of Ejipura residents to what the massacre the Sri Lankan government perpetrated against the Tamils in 2009.
Before they sealed off the area, the last group of slum housing, these made mostly of zinc roofs and walls, were demolished. I couldn’t get inside to see, but the mosque is on the edge of that former neighborhood so I took this photograph from inside to give a view of the rubble. Interestingly, when I was doing Sunday morning food distribution a couple of weeks ago a church group was the donor. And they happened to bring their own volunteers with them. Many of the families from this last area to be demolished–before it was demolished–came seeking food. One of the nuns got quite angry at the people and tried to shoo them away. I got in an argument with her and the other church people because they were clearly in need, clearly hungry, and I head heard that they were next. I remember saying, so they can only eat your food once they no longer have a roof over their head? And now it has come to pass it seems.
Today there is a big march taking place as I write. I intended to do this prior to the demonstration, but I didn’t have time. But here are the list of demands articulated by the current and former residents of Ejipura:
Grounds of Protest
- Why is land earmarked for purpose of housing Economically Weak Sections (EWS) being used for the purpose of private profit and commercial exploitation?
- Why has the BBMP chosen Maverick Holdings when they have already committed fraud by constructing Garuda Mall on public land meant for a parking lot?
- The Government has issued biometric cards, BBMP ID cards, Voter IDs and Ration Cards to the residents of EWS quarters. The BBMP Council even passed a resolution in 2005 that houses would be built for both allottees and non-allotees living in EWS Quarters. On what grounds are they now labelling them as encroachers?
- Why were the residents who were recognised as lawful residents not consulted before any decision was made?
- The concession agreement between Maverick and BBMP clearly lays down that it is Maverick’s responsibility to relocate residents during Implementation Period at its own expense. Why has this not been done?
- While EWS Quarters stood on 11.37 acres of land, how is 15.64 acres of land being handed over to Maverick Holdings?
- When this case was in the High Court of Karnataka, why did the BBMP mislead the court by saying that all interested parties agreed to this arrangement? Why were not these bonafide residents not considered as “interested parties” in this agreement?
WE DEMAND -Cancel the PPP and use the EWS land for its original purpose -Rebuild houses for all erstwhile residents immediately on the same land
-Prosecute those responsible for brutal evictions and collapse of the EWS quarters
-Order an independent judicial enquiry into the illegal diversion of public lands
Here are some important articles to read to understand more about what is going on in Ejipura: