Mumbai: Hundreds of people displaced after demolitions in Jai Bhim Nagar

Mumbai’s Jai Bhim Nagar colony saw a hoard of demolitions on June 6th which also left several injured as they protested the demolition of their homes and tried to save their belongings.

On 6th June, just two days after the results for India’s 18th Lok Sabha elections were announced, Mumbai’s most marginalised saw their homes raised to the ground. Not just that, over 35 people were injured in the process.

The area called Jai Bhim Nagar witnessed a brutal demolition undertaken under the supervision of the police and municipal corporation officials. Armed with JCBs, cranes, and other heavy machinery, the officials entered the area without warning and started the demolition of homes.

This operation was conducted in a hasty manner; many residents were unable to save their personal belongings and valuables. Scores of people even reportedly lost their valuable documents in the process as they were not allowed to enter the area.  Many locals have claimed that the demolitions took place due to certain builders, though there is little clarity on the official’s motivations. NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad has asked why private bouncers were present at the demolition.

Furthermore, there have been no resettlement or rehabilitation related arrangements made for the displaced residents. The demolition did not just leave scores of families homeless but also destroyed their personal and essential property leaving them homeless. Indian Express reported that the residents had protested the demolition, and had invoked Dr B R Ambedkar when the police came. The colony reportedly housed over 500-600 ‘jhuggies.’

Photo courtesy: Mahendra Mandangale

However, the demolition did not just lead to displaced residents but also saw reports of harrowing violence and arrests. Children and the elderly were especially affected. Several videos circulating on social media have shown police officers beating residents, including children and the elderly. As per reports, about 66 and 75 people have been arrested and detained in Byculla and Taloja jails.

A Government Resolution (GR) issued by the state explicitly mentions that no ‘jhuggi; or house, regardless of whether it is on government or private land, can be demolished between June 1 and September 30 due to the monsoon season.  Despite this clear order, the recent demolition in Jai Bhim Nagar has taken place, leaving many homeless at a time when Mumbai’s weather will also be at its most difficult for displaced people.

The police have justified these arrests by alleging that the people were involved in stone-pelting incidents. However, residents allege that the violence was provoked by goons hired by a builder who had vested interests in the demolition.

Meanwhile, civic officials have stated that the structures were erected illegally and conveyed that the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) had directed the removal of these structures. According to them, notices were served to the slum-dwellers on June 1.

On June 9th, a peaceful protest was taken out by civil society organisations, activists, and citizens of the Jai Bhim Nagar Powai Rescue Committee at Jai Bhim Nagar to protest what they say are illegal demolitions carried out by the BMC.

They raised three crucial demands which include the demand for resettlement for all residents or the return of land rebuilding their homes. Secondly, they have also asked that compensation be given to the people for the damages caused by the police during the demolition, and lastly, they have asked that all charges against those detained and arrested be withdrawn.

Sabrang India reported, narratives from the ground, saying that they also demand strict action against the MCGM and police officers responsible for the demolition which is violation of the state government’s GR. “We call for an investigation into the role of a builder in inciting violence and hiring private bouncers to act on behalf of the state. If our demands are not met, we will continue our ongoing struggle.”



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