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Medha Patkar to fight for the evicted

Staff Reporter
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Those evicted in Ejipura throng to meet Medha Patkar

Social activist Medha Patkar interacting with Ejipura residents in Bangalore on Thursday.— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.
Social activist Medha Patkar interacting with Ejipura residents in Bangalore on Thursday.— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

The visit of social activist Medha Patkar to Ejipura on Thursday, which attracted a huge media delegation, once again offered an insight into the deteriorating condition of those who were evicted from the colony for economically weaker sections in the last week of January.

Around 180 displaced families continue to live in makeshift tents on the pavement a few metres away from the demolition site. Although most of them had never heard of Ms. Patkar, they jostled to meet her to pour out their woes.

Shanti Mary, one of the most vociferous voices from the displaced families, told Ms. Patkar, “Madam, please tell them to at least let us live on the footpath for some time.” She said, “When we asked the BBMP for a little more time to vacate the colony, they said they do not own the land anymore and that it belongs to Maverick [Holdings and Investment Pvt. Ltd.]. Now, they want us to vacate the footpath too. Who does the footpath belong to?”

There was also a small scuffle among the displaced. Some of them started begging for alms from the visiting delegation to which others objected. “They have lost their minds. Will a few rupees get them a new home? We are not beggars,” an angry woman said. To this, another woman retorted, “So many big leaders have come and gone. Have we got back our houses? I might as well have a few rupees to feed my hungry children.”

Addressing the media after her visit, Ms. Patkar said, “The very basis of the deal between Maverick and the BBMP needs to be questioned. It is public land that was given away to a builder. Land is gold.” She also said, “The government never de-reserves lands of poor people that have been notified for an industrial project. But lands reserved for economically weaker sections are easily de-reserved for a commercial purpose.” Stating that the courts had been misled by the government, she said, “At this rate, people will lose faith in the judiciary.” Vowing to aid the agitation, she said, “We will get lawyers such as Sanjay Parikh and Prashant Bhushan to fight this case.”

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