Family blames hunger, cold and trauma of eviction for the elederly resident’s death but BBMP officials deny charge
Rosemary (60) one of the thousands who were rendered homeless by the BBMP’s recent demolition drive at Ejipura died late on Tuesday evening after spending nearly three days out in the open. Until the demolition, she stayed in her 150 sq ft tin hut with her son Sasi Kumar (46), daughter Sobha (38), her husband Govindraj (40) and their six children aged between 17 and 5.
Speaking to The Hindu early on Wednesday morning Ms. Sobha said that Ms. Rosemary’s death was a direct result of the demolition. “She had barely eaten anything in the last few days. All she did was cry. The cold [out in the open] was unbearable. She was trembling and was constantly complaining about the cold,” she said.
“I had only Rs. 250 with me. The neighbours gave the rest of the money to put up this tent to prop up my mother’s dead,” Ms. Sobha said pointing to the brightly coloured tent erected in the middle of the road opposite her demolished hut. Residents could be seen contributing flowers and incense sticks to the bereaved family. Ms, Sobha said she did not have the Rs. 3,000 needed for a coffin and an addition Rs. 3,000 for a grave. “We have not lifted the body because we don’t have money for even a vehicle,” she said. Ms. Sobha, who washes dishes at a nearby hotel, is the only breadwinner for the family. The children, all of who are enrolled in the nearby government school, have not attended classes since the demolition.
Speaking of his mother in her last moments, Mr. Sasi Kumar said, “She kept saying that she wanted to die here. We have lived here for nearly 20 years.”
BBMP denies allegation
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahangara Palike (BBMP) officials however, denied that Ms Rosemary’s death was caused by the eviction. “We do not know what kind of illness the woman had previously. It is difficult to say the woman died because of hunger and cold. This can be proved only after a post mortem,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity. The official added that “in such cases, the family rarely agrees to a post mortem.” Asked if the BBMP would provide compensation to the family, the official said it would be up to the corporation Commissioner to decide.
Like many others in the area, Ms. Rosemary’s family had taken a hut on rent in the shantytown. The owner has accpeted the compensation from the BBMP and surrendered his claim to the property. At least a 1000 families like Ms. Rosemary’s have been deemed encroachers as a result. In partial recognition of their status, the BBMP had given such tenants a gurthina cheeti or rights certificates in 2005.
Activists fighting on behalf of the displaced people tried to stage a protest in the centre of the city with the dead woman’s remains. But the Audugodi police intervened and took possession of the body. Police sources said that it has been sent for a post mortem examination.