On Sunday morning, after spending the night out in the cold, thousands of residents of Ejipura's EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) quarters blocked four earth movers from entering this shanty town, located near the upmarket Koramangala first block.
But hours later, when the protests were seen subsiding, the bulldozers - under the supervision and security of policemen and BBMP officials – moved in and demolished a large section of what was left after Friday and Saturday's demolition drive. Residents of the area told The Hindu that barring a short row of houses, most of the shantytown has been razed down.
Those who rejoiced at being able to send the bulldozers back in the morning, were shocked when they saw that authorities returned for the afternoon drive with increased police force and aggressive officials who rejected the residents' pleas to give them till Monday to at least remove their belongings.
Stella Maria, who works as a domestic help in the nearby National Games Village complex, says that thousands like her had nowhere to go. “We have been promised relocation and allowances by the government but now all the officials and the politicians are refusing to listen to us. They have also arrested some of our neighbours for protesting the drive,” she says.
The 23 people who were detained on Saturday were released around 1.30 p.m. on Sunday, however, sources said that the Madivala police have detained one intern, an Italian national, who was taking photographs of the demolition drive.
The BBMP confirmed that around 200 houses were demolished today. In all, out of the total 1,640 houses as many as 1,000 were razed on Saturday. “There are a few houses remaining. We will try and complete this by tonight or latest by Monday morning.”
When asked about rehabilitation or resettlement plans for these people, Mr. Ramesh said: “We have been telling them since October to make alternative arrangements. They will have to find a transit shelter for one and a half years until the Slum Board builds houses for them in Sarjapur.”
Vinay Sreenivasa, an activist who was campaigning with the residents here, said that the BBMP has been “utterly callous in throwing out people on the streets.” “Residents here were only demanding that they be given three months so their children can finish the school year. This morning we called the BBMP commissioner seeking time till Monday for a few days so people can make alternative arrangements. The authorities simply refused to listen,” he said. Some activists are meeting the Chief Minister Jagadeesh Shettar this evening, he added.
When contacted, BBMP commissioner Siddaiah said that he was not aware of the latest developments on this case.