Skip to main content

Forcible eviction?: Protests break out in Delhi puppeteers' Kathputli Colony, world's largest, against "rehab" plan

By Our Representative
Protests have broken out in Delhi's Kathputli Colony, the world's biggest settlement of street performers, following threat of forcible eviction to 3,500 families, mainly puppeteers. Belonging to Rajasthan, Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, they have been living here for around five decades, They are being told that they would be shifted for two years to a “transit camp.”
Continuing for the last about 10 days, the protests follow what activists supporting the street performers' cause call, “illicit use of police force, presence of bulldozers, and fearful environment created by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in the name of taking consent for redevelopment of the colony.”
Situated near Shadipur Depot, the Kathputli Colony houses not just puppeteers, but also magicians, snake charmers, acrobats, singers, dancers, actors, traditional healers and musicians. DDA, responsible for carrying out real estate development in India's capital city, says that the eviction is part of its “in situ redevelopment plan” of the Government of Delhi.
DDA wants the Kathputli colony dwellers to move to a “temporary” transit camp, about 5 km away in the Anand Parbat industrial area. It contends, it has signed a trapartite agreement for this with the Kathputli Colony community heads or pradhans, the Raheja builders, under which each “legitimate family” would be given a flat after two years at the same spot.
Sharply contesting DDA's claim, the Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), which represents the puppeteers, says, “DDA is on a rampant mission of getting consent from people of Kathputli Colony to shift them to transit camp and handover the land of 5.22 ha to Raheja builders for redevelopment.”
DSG, which is an ally of Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), India's apex land rights organization in the fight for the cause of the street artistes, insists, “The hurriedness is not even explained to people. In the presence of heavy police power, DDA officials are taking consent individually by pursuing individual families separately.”
Meanwhile, it alleges, “Public properties are being demolished without the public consent, damaging others house. Even the presence of bulldozers is unnecessary without collective public consent for shifting to transit camp.”
Alleging a “possible nexus between DDA and Raheja builders”, DSG insists, “The land which belongs to the puppeteers and other talented communities, who have made our country proud internationally since several decades, must belong to them.”
According to the scheme put up by DDA, each family would have to shift to the transit camp for two years, after which they would get a flat at the same spot, for which they would have to give Rs 1.42 lakh, which includes Rs 30,000 as maintenance for five years.
Each day, the DDA puts up a camp at the Kathputli Colony, where officials, in the presence of the police, seek the street artistes' consent. A digital TV at the camp shows the type of flats they would get, apart from a park, an open air theatre, two schools, and so on.
In between Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shown telling the slum dwellers about his resolve to free India of slums by 2022.
Activists say, the artistes' families are not told that, while on 3.4 hectares (ha) area of the 5.22 ha of Kathputli Colony flats for resettling the slum dwellers would come up, on the rest of the 1.7 ha, the Rahejas would be constructing a 190 metre high building, Delhi's highest, where 170 luxury flats and a helipad.
They further say, DDA's own 2009 survey estimated there were about 3,100 houses in the Kathputli Colony, yet Raheja is building only 2,641 flats. As of today, they claim, there are around 3,500 families living in the colony.
They wonder, from where would the poor artistes get Rs 1.41 lakh for their new flats, wondering who would give them loan, as no bank has yet been tied up. Also, there is a fear whether artistes' flats would be ready in two years' time.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there.