Guest post by PAUL DIVAKAR
This was written yesterday, 24 March 2011: Today we witnessed most humiliating, fascist nature of pulverising already vulnerable communities – most of whom are Dalits and backward castes in Gayatri colony near Faridpur of Baljit Nagar.
Mobilised by Indu Prakash and Hemalatha and supported by HRLN, we (NCDHR, Safai Karmachari Andolan, Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion) all gathered near the Gayatri colony along with an initial group of about 200 residents of the colony. Already many houses were demolished yesterday (23 March) and today the DDA authorities with a support of 1000 posse of armed police with 6 bull dozers and Proclaine machines were all set to raze to ground the rest of the colony. When we challenged the authorities as to on what grounds they were doing this, they flashed court order which ruled in favour of the DDA the property near the Ramjess grounds. No prior notice was given on the 23 March, residents were not warned of the demolition, they were not given any time to collect their belongings stored in the huts or ‘juggis’. when some elders resisted on the 23 March they were lathi charged and assaulted.
We warned them they they are violating the Delhi high court order of eviction procedures and all established norms of human rights. The authorities of DDA insited they hae the authority to demolish in the high handed manner they have carried out previously. We also pleaded with them that the court ruling is going to reach as our advocates are already in the High Court but we were threatened of obstructing the public officials of duty! The residents were peaceful and finally when the Bulldozers were order to demolish they cried and looked on.
Another 250 houses were demolished from 12.45pm till 3.30pm. The total number of houses there was around 600.
HRLN advocates Jayshree and Sukti informed us of the order from the High court issued by Justice. Muralidhar and later came with the order. Though the Delhi Court order was telephonically communicated of stay on the DDA’s action, the officials went about demolishing the homes of the residents. Finally after a stiff argument from Indu and a telephone call from higher authorities the DDA officials withdrew.
But already most homes were destroyed and decimated! The lives of students shattered during examinations. Pregnant women and children thrown on the roads, out in the open, vulnerable to disease, belongings worth many lakhs destroyed. 80% of the victims ae Dalits, and since the officials are guilty of willful negligence, this should attract the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
Dr. Amod Kumar of St. Stephen’s Society came to investigate and report the matter the chief secretary. He agreed to testify before the High Court in favour of the residents tomorrow when the case comes up for hearing.
A team from IGSSS and NCDHR sat with the victims to take signed list of the details of documentation available of the residents, like Electiricity bills, gas bills, voters ID issues and some also of the house tax they paid. Some told of the amounts collected by the DDA officials even as late as on the 22 March promising of protection from demolitions.
Tomorrow (25 March) the case will be up for hearing in the High Court. We are ready with about 150 details of the documentation explaining the long standing nature of the colony and peacful occupation of the ‘joggis’ by teh residents. HRLN advocates are ready with the petitions and affidavits drafted for the case tomorrow.
Those of us involved in the protection and promotion of human rights and also of inclusion efforts need to have a clear strategy of how to equip the residents of Delhi to face and prevent such inhuman attacks and atrocities by the state officials.
I am attaching some photographs of demolition.
While we can congratulate each other on the initial success of the stay on the demolition we do have a long struggle and home work to do in organising and equipping the residents of their right to life and dignity in this atrocious city of Delhi