A. Nagaraj has not been able to carry out his business for the past nine months and earn a livelihood. He is one of the six dwarfs evicted from the underpass near the City Railway Station during an encroachment removal drive by Transport Minister R. Ashok in April 2010.
Since then, Mr. Nagaraj, accompanied by R. Chandrashekhar, M. Muniraju, Allahbaksh, Tulasi and Muthamma, have been running from pillar to post in the hope of being allowed to resume their business in their old haunt.
“We used to sell handkerchiefs, safety pins and toys for the past five to six years in the underpass. On April 20, during a sudden inspection, Mr. Ashok directed officials to evict all vendors from the underpass,” said Mr. Nagaraj, President of Karnataka Dwarfs' Welfare Association.
They claimed that they have not been able to vend elsewhere and had, in fact, sought the Chief Minister's permission to vend the previous year. “We had met Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa in June 2009. He wrote to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the police and directed them to allow us to conduct our business in the underpass,” Mr. Chandrashekhar said.
They tried to explain to Mr. Ashok about this but he reportedly refused to hear them out. “We tried to meet him at his residence but he has asked the guards to not allow any dwarfs to meet him. We have been denied our right to earn our livelihood and have no one to turn to,” he added.
The six dwarfs have been meeting BBMP councillors in the hope of being allowed to resume the business of vending.
“It has been difficult. We have to earn to feed our families,” said a distraught Ms. Tulasi.
They are now pinning their hopes on M. Nagraj, chairperson of the Standing Committee for Town Planning, who has promised to take them to Mr. Ashok to plead their case.