“We were not even allowed time to collect our belongings. The police just threw our belongings on the road and threatened to beat us,” cried Pouna, whose home in Vinobanagar was among several demolished on Wednesday.
The police and officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) demolished the hutments on a drain in Vinobhanagar, rendering around 40 families homeless. The residents cried foul and pointed out that neither was any notice issued to them nor were they given time to pack their belongings. They staged a dharna in the BBMP head office and raised slogans against the civic body’s “high-handedness”.
Kuppu, who ironically is a contract pourakarmika with the BBMP, told The Hindu that when she requested the police to allow her to pack the food for her children, they threatened to beat her up. “We have not been given any notice. Most of the residents are either ragpickers or pourakarmikas. We now have nowhere to go,” she lamented.
Neelangani, who was clutching her three young children close, cried that after her husband deserted her, the hutment was her only solace. “Now even that has been taken away from me.”
Another resident, Damodar, who also works as a sweeper with the BBMP, said they have voter’s identity cards, ration cards and even Aadhaar cards. “We have not received salary for the past four months and now our homes have been demolished. What are we supposed to do now?” he asked.
Savitha M., activist with the Bangalore Slum Janara Sanghatane, said that the residents had been running from pillar to post to get their slum notified by the Karnataka Slum Development Board since 2010. “We have submitted letters to the BBMP, Deputy Commissioner (Urban) and Karnataka Slum Development Board.”
She pointed out that when their demands were not heeded, the residents staged a protest in front of the Slum Board last year. “It was after the protest that the Slum Board finally agreed for a survey. Even before the slum notification could be issued, the BBMP officials and police came and demolished the houses,” she said.
A few residents, accompanied by activists, met BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan and Mayor B.S. Sathyanarayana but to no avail.