Brutal Bulldozer-Raj!
National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) expresses full solidarity with the thousands of traumatized residents of Tughlakabad and some other bastis in New Delhi, whose homes have been demolished and whose lives have been ravaged both prior to as well as in the lead-up to the G-20 Summit. The disregard for their minimum well-being and gross violation of their rights is deeply troubling and demands immediate attention and redress. We condemn actions by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that launched a massive demolition drive recently, razing down nearly 1,000 houses. Additionally, hundreds of homes have been demolished in other bastis too. At some places hawkers have also faced brutal evictions, in violation of law.

The forced evictions and demolitions carried out by the authorities have not only left close to 1,600 families comprising 2.6 lakh residents homeless, but have also resulted in the loss of their belongings and livelihoods. The lack of proper resettlement prior to any move to ‘evict’ and absence of adequate support exacerbates the vulnerability of these already marginalized communities. The role of the Union Government and even the Delhi Government in displacing citizens out of their homes repeatedly is abominable.

The blatant violation of laws and regulations during the demolition drive is equally alarming. These actions disregard legal safeguards and due process, including provisions under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, New Delhi Municipal Council Act, 1994, and the principles outlined in the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions. We strongly condemn such disregard for the rule of law and call for state accountability towards all working-class communities, urging the authorities to immediately cease the demolitions, investigate these violations, and provide legal remedies and redress for the homeless residents of Tughlakabad and other localities.

Every individual has the inherent right to a safe and secure home under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. It is disturbing to see the preparations for the G-20 Summit take precedence over the people’s fundamental right to shelter. The forced evictions, demolitions, and mass displacements experienced by these communities who are also marginalised on the accounts of religion, caste, gender primarily in underprivileged areas like Kashmiri Gate, Yamuna Floodplains, Dhaula Kuan, Meharauli, Moolchand Basti and recently in Tughlakabad, are not only a violation of their fundamental rights but also a harsh reminder of the systemic failures on the part of the state to ensure fundamental rights of the most vulnerable sections.

*    We urge the Government to halt all the demolitions and forced evictions immediately.

* We demand that the Government must fully and fairly compensate all affected individuals and families for the losses incurred, including damage to property and loss of livelihoods.

* We also urge the Government to conduct a thorough and fair investigation into the events surrounding the brutal demolition of houses as a lead-up to the G20 Summit, including the high-handed actions of law enforcement agencies and hold them accountable by taking appropriate legal action.

* We also urge the Union Government and the Delhi Government to stop its repressive approach and engage in meaningful dialogue with the affected communities because it is the State’s responsibility to protect its citizens and ensure their rights, especially while hosting mega events like G-20, which have such drastic and life-altering consequences on the working poor. Otherwise, big slogans like ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ remain a hollow rhetoric.
National Alliance of People's Movements, New Delhi

Hard News in Brief
More than 2,50,000 people are homeless after the recent demolitions in Delhi’s Tughlakabad village. NewsClick’s Hrishi Raj Anand surveys the desolation and the eviction of residents from their tiny homes and establishments. The judiciary gave them ‘temporary’ relief and Delhi’s ruling party vanished from the scene, too. People who lived together have been separated permanently, as the demolition has triggered a reverse migration—from the capital city to villages in the hinterland. The Centre pursued the destruction of houses and livelihoods until the residents had no recourse. No wonder they are calling it a State-sponsored earthquake.

Remember Samarveer Singh: Teachers recalled the University of Delhi professor who was denied a regular job despite years of service, and died by suicide last month. They say they will not forgive this or the politically-motivated candidate selection ongoing at the university, writes NewsClick reporter Ravi Kaushal.

Black Diamond: The contractual workers of West Bengal’s Pandave-swar live under the shadow of death, working in underground coal mines. But they also confront job losses as the Indian government takes up ‘just transition’ to so-called clean energy. Informal workers and small businesses around mines will be the hardest hit, reports NewsClick journalist Saurav Kumar.

Belagavi Floods: For four months every year, the residents of over a dozen villages along the Krishna River in Karnataka’s Belagavi district become homeless. Seven other rivers flow through this region, irrigating fields while destroying villages. But the State government takes residents on a merry-go-round of which entitlement category they fit instead of compensating them for their losses with an even hand.

Silent Sport Stars: Sporting stars have been criticised for ignoring the protest of wrestlers in Delhi against the wrestling federation chief. Independent journalist Subhash Gatade looks at the possible reasons for their silence.

Caste Census Crisis: Conflicts along religious lines also have a caste implication, finds NewsClick reporter Tarique Anwar, who was recently touring Bihar to report on the Ram Navami day violence in several towns. While the caste census can be a glue for the socially and economically backward groups, Hindutva mobilisation along religious lines can test their ability to raise collective demands.

City Governance: The Comptroller and Auditor General has questioned successive Himachal Pradesh governments for failing to empower city governments. Former mayor of Shimla, Tikender Singh Panwar, explains how and why city residents are being denied better services.

World Press Freedom : And Last but not Least: NewsClick editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and senior journalist Bhasha Singh discuss  Day and the war in Ukraine in Padtal Duniya Bhar Ki. What makes Julian Assange stand out among those who defend the free press, and will the Russia-Ukraine war intensify?
The NewsClick Team

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Vol 55, No. 52, Jun 25 - Jul 1, 2023