Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar – Petition on Nonadanga slum demolition

April 16, 2012

To

Smt. Mamata Banerjee
Chief Minister
Government of West Bengal
Writers Building
Kolkata
India-700 001

Smt. Mamata Ji,

We are writing to you to protest and express our deep anguish over the forced eviction of residents and demolition of estimated 300 houses from Nonadanga, Kolkata by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority and the subsequent brutal crackdown, arrests of the residents and activists involved in protesting and resisting this demolition by your police forces.

To begin with let us remind you that the ousted victims of Nonadanga, whose houses have been razed by your government
authority on the 30th March, 2012, comprises of people who have reportedly been rendered homeless by hurricane Aila in
Sunderbans, the people displaced from Nandigram and many others who have been forced to migrate to the city due to severe economic distress in the rural hinterland. The purported government plan to ”beautify” the city, at the cost of the toiling masses residing in Nonadanga, by bulldozing their dwelling site, betrays a deep prejudice against the poor living in the city.

Such measures are utterly disrespectful of the toil and sweat of the these poor residents who contribute immensely to the economic activity and well being of the city. Further such brazen acts also violate the natural rights of the people over their lives and livelihood. On 4th of April a peaceful rally by the ousted residents was lathicharged mercilessly by your police forces. It is sad to note that the inhuman brutality of the police did not even spare beating up a pregnant woman, who was one of the ousted victims. This kind of rampant disregard for democratic norms continued when on April 8th, a peaceful sit-in demonstration was disrupted by the police forces along with the arrest of 69 people, victimizing children under the age of ten. Seven activists were kept in custody by slapping non-bailable charges, i.e., Debolina Chakroborty, Samik Chakrobarty, Manas Chatterjee, Deb jani Ghosh, Siddhartha Gupta, Partho Sarathi Ray, and Abhijnan Sarkar.

Further your government has been pressing false and ridiculous charges against the seven detained activists in a bid to terrorize and stifle the democratic voice of the people. On April 9th, your police cracked down on yet another peaceful rally of the anti- eviction movement in Kolkata and arrested more than 50 participants. On April 10th, a contractor appointed by the KMDA started land survey for a boundary wall with heavy police deployment, even as the administration remained tight-lipped on what the land will be used for.

On April 11th, goons of your party backed by the police attacked the human right activists who had gathered to peacefully demand the release of the seven arrested activists. We express our solidarity with the residents who have started a hunger strike from April 11, as a protest. We strongly condemn this kind of high-handed, undemocratic and brutal attitude of your government towards poor residents of the city, activists and other protesters involved in this anti-eviction struggle. We demand that all the evicted persons from the Nonadanga colony be suitably rehabilitated at the site of their choice apart from being suitably compensated for this demolition.

We demand that you prosecute police personnel responsible for the brutal lathicharge on women and minors on April 4th.

We demand an immediate release and withdrawal of cases against activists involved in this anti-eviction struggle.

Finally we condemn in strongest terms this kind of anti-people ”development” paradigm which thrives on the marginalization and suppression of the poor, panders to the narrow corporate interests and suppresses all kind of democratic voices of dissent.

Yours sincerely,
[The undersigned]

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