Agitations to be held against alleged instances of land grab
“We braved murders and robberies… lived in squalor for many years without electricity and water supply. Just when the situation was improving and we were comfortable, we were rendered homeless. We are forced to live on the footpath with our children, as we cannot afford to pay rent given our meagre earning,” cried Maimunissa, who lived in the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) Quarters at Ejipura for more than 15 years.
It is not just Maimunissa and her family who have been rendered homeless. There are more than 40 families presently living in tarpaulin huts erected on the footpath along the periphery of the land where their homes once stood.
Shanti Mary and Manjamma, who are also living on the footpath since being evicted, said they have steeled themselves to face any adversity.
“We have lived here for more than two decades. It is where our children were born, learnt to crawl, speak and walk. Out of the blue, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) decided to give our land to a builder without our consent. We are ready to fight to get our land back,” Ms. Mary said.
They were all speaking at the State-level consultation meeting which discussed the land right or urban deprived communities, including slum-dwellers, and measures to be taken to reclaim the EWS land from Maverick Holdings.
Several organisations, including various factions of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, Socialist Democratic Party of India, Aam Admi Party and Slum Janandolana — Karnataka, said the struggle should not be myopic and restricted to only the EWS Quarters.
They said there was a need for a State-level agitation against the government, protesting against the land grab. They also condemned the BBMP’s joint venture with Maverick, which allows the builder to commercially exploit half of the 15 acres and 22 gunta land.
Freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy said the erstwhile residents of EWS Quarters must pressure the government to scrap the agreement between the BBMP and Maverick and return the land to them. He asked them to not cow down to any pressure and take the struggle to its logical end.
Isaac Arul Selva from Forum against EWS Land Grab said an organising committee should be formed to take up a multi-pronged protest. He said a delegation led by Kannada writer Devanoor Mahadeva and Mr. Doreswamy would meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and urge him to scrap the joint venture between the BBMP and Maverick Holdings.
The meeting resolved to take up a campaign in all the slums in the city, hold a series of dharnas in front of the Ambedkar statue in Austin Town and take out a padayatra from EWS Quarters to Chief Minister’s residence. The meeting resolved to urge the government to re-enact the repealed Urban Land Sealing Act, besides organising a rally to create awareness among slum-dwellers about their right to land and dignified housing.