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

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).