On the situation in Nonadanga – Pamphlet by Uchched Pratirodh Committee


 

May 1, 2012

We Demand Proper Rehabilitation That is Fit for Human Survival for Slum Dwellers of Nonadanga as well as of Majdur Palli, Shramik Colony, Subhaspalli, Lakepalli, Bhai-Bhai Colony, Bastuhara Colony.

We demand immediate release of the 11 arrested along with all other activists.

The slum dwellers of Nonadanga, evicted on 30th of March, have rebuilt their shanties. After the rallies, demonstrations, mass-protests and the 12 day long hunger strike movement, right when the slum dwellers under the guidance of eviction-resistance committee (Uchchhed Protirodh Committee) have built the shades over their head, the government came down again with its brutality on the slum dwellers on the 28th of April. Eleven people were arrested including 5 women on fabricated charges. Till date two of the previously arrested supporters of the movement has not been released by the state.

This movement of Nonadanga has brought to the forefront the demands related to the condition of schools, hospitals, and drinking water along with the general developmental needs of the entire Nonadanga region. Nonadanga’s movement has brought to the forefront the demands – of the slumdwellers, hawkers and small shop owners – for the right to livelihood and right to shelter of those evicted from the fringes of Kolkata. Nonadanga’s movement has challenged the much-touted plan of converting Kolkata to London; it has put a big question mark on the pro-poor image of the government of “Ma-Mati-Manush”.

The state government, the ruling party and some servile media is spreading false propaganda

From the very beginning, the government has tried to create divisions among the slum dwellers. Creating a split between the dwellers of the two evicted slums of 30th March (viz. Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony), and those of Lakepalli, Bhai-bhai Colony and other nearby slums is the government’s agenda. Deliberate and false propaganda is being spread that the dwellers of the two evicted slums had obtained rehabilitation flats from the government and after selling that off, they are suddenly squatting by building shanties in the open field, in lure of new flats. It is also being said that these people are actually backed by land mafias, NGOs and Maoists. Coming from outside, these people are the ones who are trying to disturb the peace in Nonadanga. On the other hand the chief minister is saying that they have not and will not evict anybody.

Is that really how it is? Or are there other things veiled behind?

What is the state’s plan with Nonadanga?

Ever since the Mamata Banerjee government has come to power, among other things they have started to utilize (!) vacant land in around the city of Kolkata. Under the direction of the urban development minister, KMDA has already started to sell off vacant lands in the city following the public-private partnership (PPP) model. According to the KMDA website, there is about 80 acres of land (along with some water bodies) in their possession which they would like to lease out to private initiatives for 99 years. Multistoried residential complex, shopping malls, multiplex movie halls for the privileged, entertainment centers and water parks will be built on these lands.

The entire field, on one corner of which is Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony, is only 19 acres. We ask – where is then these 80 acres of vacant land in Nonadanga? By the mention of the nearby water bodies, it is clear that by vacant land, the slums are being indicated. That is, not only Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony, little by little, Lakepalli, Bhai-bhai Colony, Subhaspalli, Bastuhara Colony, basically all slums of Nonadanga will eventually be evicted. Only then 80 acres of land can be handed over to the land sharks. They will make profits in crores by constructing residences, entertainment centers, shopping malls, and water parks for the privileged. And hence, those who are saying that rehabilitation flats would be built on this land for the poor are simply lying. There’s no mention of flats for the poor in the KMDA website.

Apparently everyone here owns a flat!

And that is why the government and the profiteers absolutely need this land. That is why eviction has been started from Majdur Palli, Shramik Colony. Others are given the false promise of “rehabilitation”. Once they can crush Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony without providing any rehabilitation, then the rest of the slums can be evicted following the same path. That is why their strategy is to create division amongst us, to weaken us and eventually to evict all of us one by one. And then, will follow, driving out those who do not have proper documentation for their flats. We are challenging you, do not get confused by their false propaganda. If even one such slum dweller can be found in Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony who has sold off their rehabilitation flat of Nonadanga and has constructed shanties in the field in lure of a new flat, the Eviction Resistance Committee (Uchchhed Protirodh Committee) will get rid of their shanty. But why is it their fault, if in the rehabilitation flat, there are four or more adult members and due to lack of space they are forced to live in the shanties in the open fields? If you have any question with regard to this, then come to us and tell us where are we wrong? We have kept the door for discussion and consultation open for all.

Again the outsiders!

It is an irony that when Mamata Banerjee was fighting in the Singur-Nandigram movement, the then CPIM government labeled her as an “outsider”. Today Mamata Banerjee, her party and her servile followers are labeling those who are supporting this movement and who are not slum dwellers themselves as “outsiders”. This is a tragic joke in the recent history of anti-eviction movement in West Bengal. Government of the one time leader of ant-eviction movement is evicting or will evict a large part of the slum dwellers of Kolkata. Is this then the road map for Kolkata to become London?

Life in the flats – rehabilitation or exile!

The other thing that needs to be mentioned is the struggle in the everyday life of the residents of the rehabilitation flats, of the small time business owners in the markets, of the crisis in the lives of the many other residents of Nonadanga. It is true, they have received a small flat of 160 sq.ft., but is that enough for one family? The conditions of basic civic services are beyond reprehensible. We do not have clean water, there is an acute crisis of water in general. There’s no government initiated school, college, health-center or hospital here. The small area that is there as a playground for the kids will be taken over to build the park for the elite. Maybe for more profit, the government will demolish even these flats and will direct the evictees of Khalpar, Narkelbagan, and Govindapur rail colony to move further away. Or they will be enclosed within the net of the big plans of development. We the poor are out of place in this prim and proper city of the elite. Today we are entrapped in this tinned construction; tomorrow the entire Nonadanga will face the same condition.

This is the struggle of all residents of Nonadanga, we must win this struggle

Friends, we are forced to enter this unequal war against the State government, their pampered profiteers, against the false propaganda by the police and some media, only for our survival’s sake. For the sake of a roof over our head. But however unequal this war is, however much they try to beat us, we have been winning. That is why they have come back to beat us again. They are making failed attempts to get some of the government favoured fake intellectuals riled against us. Any kind of resistance is being labeled as “Maoist” to gather legal sanctity to repress it.

Even after all that, they have not been able to suppress this movement. They have arrested 11 of us including 5 women under unethical and false pretexts. And still they could not kill our movement. We continue our movement in demand of proper rehabilitation of all dwellers of Nonadanga, in demand of unconditional release of all agitators. Today this struggle is not only for the Majdoor Palli and Shramik Colony of Nonadanga; today this struggle is for all slum dwellers, for the right to shelter. We plead to you, as a slum dweller, as a resident of this area, join us in this struggle. Be on our side as a defendant of the basic rights. We need all your love, help and support. Let Nonadanga be the new name for our struggle. Let there be hope for the defendants.

With thanks,

Eviction Resistance Committee (Uchched Pratirodh Committee)

[Translated by Atreyi]

Click here to read Bengali Pamphlet

Join- United Protest against Evictions and Repression in West Bengal


25 April, 11.30 am


in front of Banga Bhavan 

 (3, Hailey Road, New Delhi)

(nearest metro station is Mandi House)

Nonadanga, Kolkata, witnessed the complete demolition of the over 200 slumdwellers houses on 30th March 2012. The consequent many peaceful marches brutally lathicharged(April 4, 8, 12…), hundreds of activists arrested and seven branded with ‘anti-national activities’, mass hunger strike for 12 days by the local Ucched Pratirodh Committee and daily confrontations with the KMDA and police later, people are rebuilding their houses and questioning the model of developmental terrorism.
We are aware of similar processes of eviction drives in the name of development in Delhi, and we struggle against the (designs of the) ruling class which underpin it.

Of the seven arrested activists, two continue to languish in jail, one of them under the draconian UAPA.


WE demand:

  • Immediate and unconditional release of all the activists arrested on April 8. Drop charges against all seven of them: Debolina Chakraborty, Samik Chakraborty, Abhijnan Sarkar, Debjani Ghoah, Manas Chatterjee, Siddhartha Gupta and Partha Sarathi Ray.
  • Drop the draconian UAPA and all charges on Debolina Chakraborty, and release her immediately and unconditionally.
  • The state must stop further harassment of residents and activists, and apologise to the people for having infringed upon its democratic right to organise and dissent; and take action against the police officers involved in the lathicharge on April 4.
  • The right to housing and rehabilitation of the slum-dwellers and hawkers in Nonadanga must be immediately ensured in a fair and just manner so that that their labour-power is not further devalued.
  • All construction in Nonadanga by the KMDA must come to an immediate halt. The eviction drive in the city, and the anti-people programme of neo-liberal capitalist development of which it is an integral part, must be stopped.
  • The process of slum-eviction in Delhi must be stopped immediately and inhabitants of the jhuggi-jhopri clusters in the city should be provided with adequate land, and respectable housing with clean drinking-water sources and proper sanitation amenities.

Joint pamphlet for campaign in Delhi on the same from mass organisations is attached in hindi.
its english translation, also given as press note, is available here: http://sanhati.com/articles/4956/

Sd/-
All India Federation of Trade Unions(New)
All India Students Association
All India Revolutionary Students Organisation
Bigul Mazdoor Dasta
Disha Chatra Sagathan
Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra
Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
Krantikari Yuva Sangathan
Mazdoor Patrika
Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha
New Socialist Initiative
Peoples’ Democratic Front of India
Progressive Democratic Students Union
People’s Union for Democratic Rights
Posco Pratirodh Solidarity-Delhi
Radical Notes
Sanhati-Delhi
Shramik Sangram Committee
Students For Resistance
Vidyarthi Yuvajan Sabha

Immediate Release-Demonstrators against Slum Evictions arrested in Kolkata


Sanhati, April 8, 2012

Many demonstrators, including Sanhati activists, arrested during protest meeting

Message received from activists: Around 80 people including many women and children have been arrested while the meeting was continuing peacefully. Sanhati members Samik, Parag, Abhijnan and Partho have been arrested along with many other activists. Peoples spirits are high. The movement will go on.

Earlier : a day long sit-in demonstration to protest against Nonadanga slum demolition and forcible eviction, started at Ruby junction around 10am.

For the last one week, the evicted people are staying in an open field under the scorching sun and the blinding rain, facing police repression, but have refused to move away.

*********

7 April 2012

Letter to CM from residents of Nonadanga
Translated by Riten Mitra

Dear Sir,

We are a total of about 150 households and Nonadanga grounds has been our home for quite some time. Some of us have been here for the last two years, some six. There is another colony consisting of about 100 families, with an estimated mean population of about seven to eight hundred. We had all come to stay here from different parts of West Bengal. For the last 34 years, we have been victims of severe deprivation, working as cheap labor and trying hard to make ends meet in times of scarcity. Now we are to be ousted again. Where shall we go from here?

It is your government that replaced the old one for one, Tapasi Mallik. Then how could you drive away seven to eight hundred families at one go ? If we were just one or two households, like in the past, the shock would have been less. Are we to understand that the land which was deemed useless by the government, for the last 50 to 60 years, is now suddenly required ?

We are a group of helpless poor who have reached the limits of desperation. We appeal to you for the last time with the hope that you can come here and see our daily living conditions for yourself. If Didi could rush to the scene for one Tapashi Mallik, then she could surely hear the voices of 800 poor people and come here to see us. We look forward to seeing her. We hope that she comes and sees us.

Yours respectfully,

Nonadanga Majdur Palli
Thana-Tiljala
South 24 Parganas

Report of brutal lathicharge on protest by evicted slum-dwellers
by Partho Sarathi Ray

5 April 2012

Video : Clash at Ruby More

On 4th April, the Kolkata police conducted a brutal lathicharge on a peaceful protest rally of slum dwellers who have been evicted over the past one week from their hutments in Nonadanga in south Kolkata. Nonadanga is the area where slum dwellers evicted from various canal banks of Kolkata are being resettled over the past five years under the BSUP (Basic Services to Urban Poor) scheme of JNNURM. The resettlement projects have been run by KMDA (Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority) and KEIP (Kolkata Environmental Improvement Project) who own the land in the area, although no basic services or amenities for the families sent to this area, such as schools or health services were provided. Nonadanga also became a place where many other families, escaping the ravages of hurricane Aila, or failed crops and indebtedness in their villages, came and settled. They had to pay Rs 5000 to Rs 10000 to the local CPI(M) or Trinamool Congress bosses, in order to be allowed to build hutments on the vacant land lying around. It is these people who are being evicted now, their shanties demolished and burnt down by KMDA and the police, as they are being labeled as “encroachers”. The real reason behind this is that the land in Nonadanga, very close to a major intersection on the E M Bypass, is a prime target of real estate developers, and these “encroachers” have to be removed in order to make this land available for “beautification”.

Last week the KMDA, went on a demolition drive, in spite of an appeal by the slum dwellers to the urban development minister Firhad Hakeem. The latter openly stated that all “illegal” settlers would be evicted. Around 200 shanties were bulldozed, and all belongings of these families were destroyed. Since then, around 150 families are staying out in the open, in the scorching sun, and their only means of sustenance is a public kitchen being run by some Leftist youth and political organizations which have come forward in solidarity with the slum dwellers. Yesterday, the evicted people had tried to take out a rally towards the E M Bypass road, but the police first prevented them from reaching the road, and then lathicharged. The rally, consisting of many women and children, was broken up in this brutal manner and many people have been injured. Women were beaten up mercilessly by male police. A pregnant woman named Rita Patra was injured and has been hospitalized. A 3 year old child Joy Paswan has had his head fractured by a police lathi. Many activists who were in the march were also beaten up in a targeted manner. However, the slum dwellers have not shifted from their demand of proper rehabilitation and compensation and would be marching to the office of the urban development minister today.

The government of “maa, mati, manush” of Mamata Banerjee has shown its true colours, evicting the “manush” from the “mati” and beating up the “maa”, all in order to hand over the commons land of Kolkata to the corporate land sharks in the best traditions set up by the previous CPI(M)-led government.

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