In Kolkata, nine-year-old girl spends 9 hours in police lockup


KOLKATA, TNN , April 9 : After more promises of rehabilitation, the administration again cracked down on Nonadanga settlers protesting against their eviction. Police rounded up 69 agitators, including a nine-year-old girl, and locked them up at Lalbazar for nine hours on Sunday.

At night, 62 of them were released, while seven leaders of the anti-eviction movement were booked on non-bailable charges. Three days ago, urban development minister Firhad Hakim had promised to review the rehabilitation scope for Nonadanga evictees.

The seven leaders include Debolina Chakraborty, Sidhartha Gupta, Debjani Ghosh, Abhigyan Sarkar, Partha Sarathi Roy, Shamik Chakraborty and Amal Chatterjee. While Shamik and Amal are activists of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad, the others belong to different mass organizations.

On Sunday morning, shanty dwellers of Nonadanga assembled near Ruby crossing off EM Bypass to demand rehabilitation of the evicted squatters. “It was a scheduled programme and we had informed Kolkata Police well in advance,” said Shamik Chakraborty, one of the leaders of Nonadanga Uchhed Birodhi Committee – the anti-eviction forum fighting for rehabilitation of the squatters.

The demonstration began around 10am. It was being held away from the main thoroughfare, so there was no chance of traffic disruption, claimed the organizers.

Shortly before noon, a large police force, led by deputy commissioner Basab Dasgupta, visited the spot and reportedly asked the agitators to leave at once.

“We refused to give in. But they forced us to stop. They pushed us into the prison van and dispersed the gathering by chasing the protesters,” said Abhay, another leader of the forum.

Debolina Chakraborty, one of the organizers, said that initially they were taken to Tiljala police station and then to the central lockup at the Lalbazar police headquarters.

“Police arrested 69 of us including 39 women and a child of nine years,” said Parag Banerjee, one of the agitators. Police denied detaining the child and said 61 people had been held.

Confusion has taken place over the number of the arrest as DC SSD Sujay Chanda said, “We have arrested 61 persons under 151 IPC (considered as preventive arrest) and the case was registered at Kasba police station.” He denied that nine-year-old Monika Kumari Shaw was arrested. TOI, however, confirmed that the child was in the lockup with her mother till 9pm with all other arrested agitators.

At night, police released 62 of the detainees on personal release bond, but they booked seven leaders in connection with a case registered at Tiljala police station on Wednesday.

On that afternoon, six persons – including an 18-month-old infant – were injured in a lathicharge on a rally of the evictees. “These seven persons have been arrested under Sections 143,149,332,341,342 353 of IPC which suggests that they had provoked people in wrongful activity, assembled illegally, and wrongfully restrained and resisted policemen,” said a senior officer. The forum however claimed that Sarkar, Debjani and Partha Sarathi Roy were not present in Wednesday’s rally.

Amitava Bhattacharya, secretary of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad, condemned the arrest. “It was a peaceful assembly and it was an announced programme. It’s a fascist step taken by the government to gag the voice of democratic protest,” said Bhattacharya.

The forum has decided to march from College Square to Writers’ Buildings on Monday. Rights organizations like APDR and Bandi Mukti Committee and USDF have said they will join the rally. “We strongly condemn the arrest,” said Choton Das, secretary Bandi Mukti Committee.

State government perhaps in a bid to take strong arm policy against the Nonadanga anti-eviction movement. Despite an assurance from state urban development minister Firhad Hakim on Thursday to review the rehabilitation scope of the evictees, on Sunday once again police operation was conducted against the agitating evictees. Cops rounded up 69 agitators including a nine-year-old girl and put them in Lalbazar Central lock up till late evening since noon.

Later at night cops released 62 among them but rounded up seven leaders of the movement in stringent non-bailable charges.latter two are known activists of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad then previous five are from different mass organizations.

Appeal for Action- Forcible Eviction in Nonadanga, Kolkata


On 30th March  Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) evicted close to hundred huts in Nonadanga, near EM Bypass in Kolkata. Interestingly, this new township is made up of rehabilitated people from all over Kolkata, who have been evicted since the Globalization started ousting poor people from important parts of the city. Thousands of evicted people live there in numerous 10 ft by 12 ft or smaller sized ‘flats’.

As the rural south Bengal is reeling under crisis in agriculture, A lot of villagers are coming to Kolkata in search of casual menial jobs to earn there livelihoods. Thus new slums are being born everyday, here and there in the city. Then comes the rampant eviction drives by Government, without any kind of rehabilitation in most of the cases. It is to note here that eviction without providing any rehabilitation can not be done, according to the new policy adopted by Central Government, which is, in turn, a long told demand by NGOs and activists dealing with evictions. But it appears that neither KMDA, nor the State Government care for this.

Nonadanga, being a rehabilitation place for evicted poor in the City, attracted a lot of poor people migrated from south Bengal. The influx has risen since 2009-10, while AILA, a super cyclone struck south Bengal and left the villages ruined and cultivation impossible as salty sea water, carried by cyclone, entered into the villages and fields. This has become an added plight to the villagers of south Bengal who are already at stress due to continuous crisis in agriculture. Migration from villages, which was already started, took a giant leap and more than 25 percent people left south Bengal for various cities in India, including Kolkata. A lot of them came to Nonadanga, hoping that an eviction drive would not happen in a neighbourhood which is full of rehabilitated people. More than fifty makeshift huts have been erected in front of the rehabilitation flats. A neighbourhood was born barely a year ago, named ‘Majdoor Colony’. The colony has got a neighbour ‘Lake Colony’, which was born a couple of years back. People evicted from other places in the city and who didn’t get the ‘rehabilitation flats’ made up this Colony.

There are a lot of self-made colonies in Nonadanga, acting as unofficial refuge to the evicted people in Kolkata and for those who are coming in the city from villages. Many a lot has been evicted already, as the Nonadanga township will not remain as a rehabilitation township but would act as an extension of the city of Kolkata; hence a lot of factories are being built there. Unofficial and self made rehabilition colonies would be evicted one after another — the news has been in the air in Nonadanga for months now.

Barely a week ago, KMDA evicted a number of makeshift shops adjacent to the EM Bypass road to facilitate extension of the road. A new wave of eviction in Nonadanga has become imminent as KMDA came along with 7 vans of police force and told people to leave ‘Majdoor Colony’ a couple of days back. People resisted on that day, successfully. Yesterday, minister of Urban Developement, Firhad Hakim came and told that a couple of colonies would be evicted on the next day. Police vans, Bulldozers arrived.

Morning starts with a resistance from habitats, which lasted for two hours, until Police started repression by arresting 7 women (unconfirmed) and setting off fire in some huts. To note here, putting slum  huts into fire is a long used technique by Kolkata Police during eviction. But nobody can blame them as they always decline the accusation and use local goons or plain clothed police personnel to do that. Fire put out the resistance today. Eviction in Majdoor Colony went on smoothly thereafter. Another smaller colony, named ‘Subhash Pally’ is waiting for eviction today.

  Ground report by —Shamik Sarkar

For regular updates on the issue

 Contact-  Nonadanga sananda dashgupta 8296461095, Sutanaya chakrabarty 9433092338


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