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Slumlords' real estate nexus, callous cops "responsible" for Mumbai gangrape of local environmental activist

By Our Representative
The Mumbai-based civil society organization, working on house rights issues, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) has said that the gang rape of an environmental activist living in a slum community in Mumbai is the direct result of her fight against illegal uprooting of mangroves in the area.
The woman was sexually assaulted by five men on Sunday, one day after her complaint led to the demolition of their illegal hutments on the green patch at Sai Dham Nagar in Kandivali’s Charkop area.
Insisting that the Mumbai police is also responsible for this gruesome incident, GBGBA said, the cops showed “callousness” by failing to take steps “which would have avoided such a heinous crime.”
GBGBA said, “Generally, every informal settlement in Mumbai has a strong and active nexus of slumlords and local police which is involved in illegal selling of government and private plots to poor working class of the city to construct their dwellings.”
Pointing out that “this nexus controls water and electricity supply”, GBGBA, in a statement issued on Thursday said, it “sells plots by cutting mangroves and fill the marshy land with debris.”
GBGBA noted, “Members of this nexus also harass women living in the community and in nearby areas physically and sexually”, adding, “This nexus takes full advantage of the helplessness of poor working class of the city who due to the unavailability of cheaper housing option fall prey to slumlords.”
Illegal shanties destroyed because of the woman's complaint
“Slumlords control these mainly marshy areas, and allow construction of huts only when they are paid some money”, GBGBA said, adding, the police is “directly involved” in this racket.
These things are continuing despite the fact that, GBGBA claimed, its activists made several complaints to the local police stations of respective areas, complaining cutting mangroves, public consumption of hooch, and harassment of women.”
One who was engaged in conserving mangrove cover in the area associated with the Anyay Nivaran Bhrashtachar Nirmulan Paryavaran Sanrakshan Sanstha, on Saturday she lodged a complaint with the local forest department about the shanties which came up, with unauthorized structures being sold for as high as Rs 12 lakh.
Local activists said, the woman was assigned the task of monitoring mangroves. After her complaint on Saturday, the structures were demolished. The men involved in the gang rape “began filming her from the window to terrorise her.”
Then, she was dragged outside and was hit with an iron rod. She was thrust to the floor and raped. Her mother heard the commotion, arrived at the spot and called the police. All this happened between 3.30 and 4.00 pm.
Taken to the nearby Ambedkar Hospital, where she received stitches on her face and ribs, local activists complained, the police didn’t inform the hospital about her case.
Meanwhile, the victim has accused the police of being hand-in-glove with those responsible for raping her. Her lawyer has said, the police official on duty at Charkop police station, Mahadev Tukaram Bhonsale, didn’t register the FIR on time. Five persons were booked only after an FIR was filed on Monday.

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