Migrant workers were once again targeted in Bangalore when a group of 50 armed men came in with JCB machines, allegedly attacked residents and demolished 30 dwellings at Munnekolala near Marathahalli on Thursday, reported The Hindu.
When the residents tried to question the men, they were allegedly kicked. Three people, including a woman and her six-month old son, sustained injuries and were admitted to Bowring hospital. It was reported that people, including several women and the caretaker of the property were also assaulted when they tried to stop the demolition.
Speaking to The Hindu, the woman said, “Around 9 AM, a group 50 men barged into the colony when male residents had left for work. They ransacked 30 huts. The JCB machines started crushing our huts.”
“The men did not even allow us to collect our belongings, and beat up some of the residents. They threw a six-month-old baby on the ground,” one resident alleged.
22-year-old Hussain, a resident of the settlement said the residents were caught unawares by the mob. He told The Quint, “They all had big sticks, and had big swords as well. They were pushing people out of homes and kicking down walls. They took me by the neck and pushed me out of my house, asking me to get out. They were not prepared for a conversation, they were just pushing people out of homes as the JCBs started demolishing the huts. Many of us have lost money, mobiles, documents and things.”
Sabina, 45, who was not at home when the demolition happened, said, “I was not even at home when they broke it down. I was working in someone’s house. I came home to find my things destroyed and dumped. I had Rs 20,000 at home that I was saving to send home to Kolkata, and several saris and new blankets, expensive ones. It’s all gone.”
The Marathahalli police has given its version of the incident and said that the razing of the huts happened due to a tussle among two land-owners who owned adjacent plots. On a complaint by K Naveen Kumar, the owner of the plot, the police arrested 10 people, seized three JCBs and four bikes belonging to the accused.
The police have booked cases under Sections 427 (destruction of property), 441 (trespassing) and 141 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
A police officer said, “We have arrested Sandeep, who is the prime accused in the case along with nine of his associates. They have been charged with unlawful assembly, rioting, criminal trespass and assault. They have been remanded in judicial custody.”
“A legal procedure is to be followed for an eviction drive. Demolishing dwellings illegally is a serious offence,” a senior police officer said.
Social activist Kaleemullah, a social activist who works with migrants estimates that as many as 150 are rendered homeless by the demolition. The residents have lost their IDs, documents, money and other valuables.
A city-based advocate, Zia Nomani said, “We will approach the Human Rights Commission. The bigger fear among the residents is that many of them have lost documents and IDs, which are mandatory considering the present situation.”
Zia, also a member of Swaraj India, alleged that the people who demolished the colony were sent on the orders of Aravind Limbavali, a senior BJP leader.
Aravind Limbavali had earlier tweeted a video of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) razing the settlement of people at the Kariyammana Agrahara area in Bellandur claiming that they were illegally constructed and housed alleged Bangaldeshi immigrants.
She said, “We are very sure that this has been done on his orders. Last time too, he tweeted a video and spread fears over NRC, NPR.”
Most of the residents of the settlement, like in other migrant colonies, are daily-wage labourers, domestic workers who work as cleaners, cooks and guards.
The constant asking for proofs has left poor residents in fear. Not just in Bangalore, but even in Mumbai, political parties like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have been knocking on doors of the residents and asking them for proof of their citizenship.
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