No Country for the Poor in the Capital of World’s Largest Democracy:
On 25th December when rest of Delhi was celebrating Christmas on one of the coldest days of the year, the poorest of the poor of Delhi witnessed the most inhuman apathy from the authorities of the Capital of the World’s largest Democracy. The poor slum dwellers of Mansarovar Park did not even imagine that the city that they build and serve daily with their labour without ever receiving the bare minimum human facilities will decide to destroy their minimal shelters and leave hundreds of women, old and children without a roof in this severe winter.
AISA- CPI(ML) team under the leadership of Com. Sucheta (AISA Jt. Secretary) and CPI-ML leaders Com. V K S Gautam and Com. Aslam reached the slums near the metro station of Mansarovar Park where the Northern Railway authorities along with Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) carried out the demolition drive. The demolition drive was carried without any prior notice or intimation leaving the slum dwellers especially women and children hapless victims, as most of the men were out on work. It is also worth noting that these slum dwellers have been living there for last 10-11 years and most of them have ration cards, Aadhar cards and voter ID cards. The way the demolition was carried out by Northern Railways and BJP led MCD right after the Delhi state elections have raised questions about the vindictive motive behind the demolition of the slums.
It was a painful sight at Mansarovar Park where hundreds of men and women were scavenging through the ruins caused by the bulldozers of MCD, while shivering young kids circled around small fires with new born babies struggling to keep them warm. The sheer insensitivity of the officials who carried out the demolition is even more chilling. Shivam a slum dweller whose slum was also destroyed by the bulldozer narrated that the authorities asked the driver of the bulldozer to bury all the belongings of the slum dwellers in the ground so that after the demolition is over the slum dwellers fight among themselves over the ownership of the buried clothes and utensils. Shocked and enraged by the inhuman dimension of the demolition drive AISA-CPI (ML) members immediately gave a call for resisting the displacement of the poor slum dwellers from Mansarovar Park and asked them to rebuild their slums.
AISA –CPI(ML) team decided to organize a flash protest demonstration at the office of the Divisonal Regional Manager of Northern Railway. The call of the flash protest received vociferous support from the slum dwellers and many women and men volunteered to join the demonstration. A very energetic protest demonstration was organized in front of the DRM office and all attempts to contain it by the police were thwarted by the protesters. The DRM agreed to meet a delegation and conveyed to the delegation from AISA-CPI(ML) – Slum Residents that demolition and displacement was stalled till March 2014 and the railways will provide with blankets and other basic necessities. He also conveyed that the Railways had given 11 crore rupees to the MCD for resettlement of the slum dwellers before the demolition drive was launched. The slum residents confirmed that no such initiative was intimated by the MCD during the demolition.
The AISA-CPI(ML) team returned back to the slums and the message of the withdrawal of displacement drive was received with a sigh of relief from the residents of the slums. While the Mansarovar Park slum dwellers will find some temporary relief, the incident exposed yet again the monstrous and inhuman face of development and beautification discourse of Delhi. Delhi which is often presented as the richest state in the country and proudly claimed to be an international City shows little respect for the fundamental rights of the poor that have been ensured by the constitution of the country. While Delhi basks in the wasteful extravaganza of shopping malls, wide roads and middle class consumption the poor people whose labour keeps Delhi going are denied the basic human rights. AISA-CPI(ML) feels that it is high time that the political question of life-livelihood and dignity of the poor people is brought back into the political discourse of Delhi.
AISA led JNUSU ran a fund raising capmpaign to collect relief for the those evicted in the Mansarovar Metro station. 31st December, 2013, AISA led JNUSU went there to distribute the blankets, woolens to the affected people. Anubhuti Agnes Bara, Vice President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union said “We demand that the MCD and the Railways take responsibility of the rehabilitation of these people who have been made homeless in this chilling cold. Most of them have been living here for at least a decade, providing them adequate housing is the responsibility of the government,”
Slum Resident Narrating his Experience:
Com. Sucheta’s Speech at the DRM office