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Mumbai slum demolition began 10 hrs before notice period was to end, sans any rehabilitation: GBGBA

By Our Representative
Why did hundreds of shanties go up in flames amidst the demolition drive undertaken by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday? In a strongly-worded statement, the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), a Mumbai-based civil rights organization, has blamed it on accidents caused by gas cylinders getting exploded and a "response" to the surprise BMC more.
Pointing out that the BMC is now up for "second phase of demolition without offering any relief/rehabilitation", GBGBA says, it has been "flouting basic norms to be followed before any eviction and the police is harassing the evicted persons who are living in open and have nowhere to go."
Calling it "the most brutal demolition drive carried out by the BMC", leading to "burning of hundreds of shanties of poor", GBGBA said, the BMC "issued a 48 hours’ notice prior to the demolition drive; however, it came down to demolish shanties merely after 15 hours in a total surprise manner without even allowing people to save their belongings or move to a safer place."
Pointing out that that the BMC is wrongfully "putting blame on the slum dwellers for causing fire to save their house", GBGBA said, "If someone believes BMC then one can imagine the magnitude of helplessness of those who went to the extent of burning their own houses."
"Seriousness of a 48 hours’ notice can be understood by the order of the Bombay High Court passed on Friday in which it stayed the demolition of another slum", GBGBA insisted, adding, "Activists of GBGBA pointed this out before the Bombay High Court on Friday when the revenue officials came to demolish the slum in Four Bungalows in Versova named Siddharth Nagar. This slum is saved as of now."
Pointing out that "those who have been evicted from Garib Nagar are left to live in open without any rehabilitation or relief offered to them", GBGBA said, "Even this was not enough; police kept on thrashing those living on road and even threatening to arrest the evicted persons."
"Since the demolition was surprise in nature, nobody got the chance to save their belonging. There is a greater chance of bursting one or the other gas cylinder that were kept in almost all the houses. Locals even allege that the power supply was not cut before carrying out the demolition", claimed GBGBA.
It added, "BMC’s cold heartedness can be seen in the videos in which bulldozer found continuing demolition even when houses were burning", adding, "The demolition is being carried out at the behest of a Bombay high Court’s order, which only ordered removal of shanties near the Tansa pipeline."
"However, nowhere in the order did the court ask the civic body to resort to such brutalities. Evictions have been taking place in other parts of Mumbai of the shanties near Tansa pipeline followed by rehabilitation; however in no other case such atrocities were faced by the shanty dwellers."
"Putting blame for causing fire, on the poor resident with least representation becomes easy and easier especially when it is a Muslim majority settlement", argues GBGBA, adding, "Evicted persons are getting two times meals from local community kitchen, thanks to local shopkeepers' and residents' efforts."

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