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Ejipura protesters remanded in judicial custody for three days

Special Correspondent
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Demolitions to resume today amid allegations of police brutality, BBMP chicanery

OUT IN THE COLD:The roof over their heads disappeared in minutes during the demolition drive by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike at the Ejipura EWS Quarters on Saturday.— PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.
OUT IN THE COLD:The roof over their heads disappeared in minutes during the demolition drive by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike at the Ejipura EWS Quarters on Saturday.— PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

As many as 23 protesters, including Kaveri Indira Rajaraman, an Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) researcher, documentary filmmaker Gee Ameena Suleiman — both People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) members — were arrested along with Ejipura residents and remanded in three days’ judicial custody for opposing the demolition drive carried out by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) at Ejipura EWS Quarters in Koramangala on Saturday.

Ms. Rajaraman and Mr. Suleiman were physically lifted and dragged away into police vans, following which around 20 other EWS residents, all women and some carrying infants and toddlers too, courted arrest.

‘Most brutal way’

PUCL activists, who are supporting the protest, alleged that the eviction by the police was done in a “most brutal” way. The women were kicked and their clothes torn even as they were dragged by the police. They were also caned, arrested and put in a shed behind the Adugodi police station, PUCL members alleged.

The arrested will remain in police custody for three days while the BBMP is expected to resume its drive on Sunday.

During a meeting with PUCL members on Saturday afternoon while the demolition was under way, BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah agreed to stop demolitions of occupied homes and to give families three months to leave, PUCL member Arati Choksi said. “In fact, Mr. Siddaiah called [BBMP Engineer-in-Chief] B.T. Ramesh in the presence of activists and EWS residents. However, the demolition continued unabated. Mr. Ramesh insisted on a written order from the office of the Commissioner, who had conveniently disappeared by then.”

No money or support

Ms. Choksi said the police had given the residents time till 6 p.m. on Saturday to clear their belongings but as many as 500 homes had been razed to the ground by the BBMP bulldozers earlier itself.

“Many families are out on the streets as they don’t have the finances or support to relocate. Children whose mothers were arrested are on the streets looking for them. Women are crying helplessly, not knowing where to take their young and old.” she added.

Appealing to the BBMP to stop the eviction of residents and the demolition of occupied homes, PUCL has demanded that all charges against the residents and activists be dropped.

Right to shelter

“Right to shelter is one of the principle rights enshrined in Article 21 of our Constitution. The State, under no circumstance, has the right to go against either the letter or the spirit of this right without providing alternative arrangements for all those it renders homeless. Further the police protection of demolitions does not legitimise its use of brute force and physical violence against the weakest in our society who are but protesting losing their all,” the PUCL said in a press release.

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