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‘Slum-dwellers in distress after eviction in 2012’

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“I had to get my three minor daughters married in fear that they may get trafficked from the unsafe area in Park Circus where we live after being evicted,” said Mumtaz Begum.

She is one among the 2,000 people who were evicted from the slum in Topsia on the south-eastern part of the city in November 2012 for the construction of a nine-km long flyover.

The eviction had put an abrupt end to the studies of her children, she said. “I have four daughters and two sons. I can’t send them to school anymore, after we were forced to shift near the tracks between Ballygunge and Park Circus station in south Kolkata,” Ms. Begum (32) told The Hindu.

The ordeals of many other such families came out in a report published by the rights organisation Apne Aap Women Worldwide (AAWW) on Monday. The report states that more than 2,000 people of 383 families belonging to lower caste Muslims were evicted from the Topsia slums.

The families are mostly engaged in rickshaw pulling, rag picking and leather work. It also states that till date the State Government has not provided them with any rehabilitation.

The eviction took place between November 10 and 12, 2012. The families are now being forced to live in rented places at Subbhas Gram, Sonarpur, Lakhikantapur in South 24 Parganas district, Baghajain in the southern part of Kolkata.

“To date, despite being responsible for the injustices, the State government has not compensated the families,” states the report tilted ‘Forcefully Evicted and Forgotten: An Assessment of the impact of Forced Eviction at Topsia, Kolkata’. It also claims that only a few affected families were given a miserly compensation of Rs.12,000.

The report claims that after the eviction, 10 children and one woman were missing and one woman was murdered. “Out of the 383 evicted families we cannot trace 183 families,” said AAWW founder Ruchira Gupta.

Ms. Begum and Ms. Gupta alleged that cadres of the Trinamool Congress resorted to “intimidation and strong arm tactics” to evict the families. Ms. Begum said: “The TMC cadres threatened us that if we do not vacate the land then our daughters might get raped and houses might be set ablaze,” said Ms. Begum.

Making similar claims Ms. Gupta said that the locals recognised that the men who engineered the eviction were affiliated to the TMC.

Local TMC leader and Deputy Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Iqbal Ahmed denied the allegation.

“It is a baseless allegation. There were no slums in the area and these people are illegal squatters,” he told The Hindu .

The AAWW officials threatened to take the State Government to court if it did not take any measure in this regard within three months. “We are giving the State Government a three-month deadline. If it does not act then we will approach the Calcutta High Court,” said Ms. Gupta.

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Printable version | Jul 17, 2018 9:35:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/slumdwellers-in-distress-after-eviction-in-2012/article7551743.ece