Mumbai – NAPM statement in protest against the evictions in Sion Koliwada

May 31, 2012

Statement by National Alliance of People’s Movements

Mumbai May 31st, 2012: Despite severe resistance by the traditional fisher folk in Sion Koliwada, the Mumbai police and Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been going ahead with its demolition drive. The municipal officials, accompanied by the private builder, Mr. Sudhakar Shetty and a huge contingent of the RAF police today ruthlessly razed down the house of Kalpesh Shivkar of the Koliwada community. Despite the police and private security of the builder attempting to drive away the other community people who were protesting and resisting the demolition, the people were keen to stand by Kalpesh and afford support. About 50-100 women and men have been arrested while they were trying to give protection to Kalpesh’s family and neighbours whose house was demolished and needed shelter, since monsoon is at doorstep. The women were physically assaulted by the male police, who also pulled them by their hair. All this brutality by the police is totally condemnable. Surprisingly, after the demolition, while the people were trying to re-erect the houses, the builder brought in 20 muslim women to occupy the same place, which the locals questioned.

National Alliance of People’s Movements and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao (GBGB) Andolan wholly condemns this brutal move of the administration to evict the people from their decades old settlements, for no cogent public purpose, rather for the vested interests of a private real estate lobby. The demolition is not only unjustifiable, but is also fully illegal and in violation of the legal rights of the residents. GBGB also questions the entire project as a fraudulent one since false consent has been shown by the community, signatures of the locals have been manoeuvred and other serious irregularities have been committed by the developers. It is fact that more than 80% of the residents have not consented to the project, which makes the very project illegal.

It is shocking to note that the police has not yet registered cases filed by the people over the past few days as FIRs, ever since the eviction drive began. Moreover, despite the people pointing out specifically as to how certain police officials / personnel are siding with the builders and have demanded suspension of such officers, no action has been taken in this regard. The only ‘assurance’ that the police has given so far is to protect the municipal officials who may face any ‘harm’, during the demolition process. We express our deep disdain towards this approach of the State and seek to challenge the illegal arrests and detentions being made by the police for questioning the unlawful demolitions.

It may be noted that Koliwada, an indigenous fisherfolk Community has been living in the area even prior to independence. In 1939, the British constructed NSP sheds for their own security purposes and they were asked to move to this. These NSP Sheds then were taken over by the Municipal Corporation after Independence. Even though these fisher people have lived on the land for more than a century they have been denied their “right to land”, due to the unfair policies of the Britishers as well as BMC. Now in the name of so-called ‘development’, the State is evicting them and giving away the prime property to the Builders. The people continue to face the might of the JCBs, police and State with their resolve in non-violent, democratic struggle.

On the arrest of Medha Patkar and other activists opposing evictions

May 30, 2012

* Medha Patkar and Seven Others Arrested While Opposing Evictions
* Women and Children Beaten and Harassed by Mumbai Police Force
* Demolitions Continue in Sion Koliwada and Ambujwadi and so does Resistance

Mumbai, May 29 : In a brazen violation of the traditional rights of the fisherfolks in Sion Koliwada Mumbai police and BMC has started demolishing homes of the people since morning today. Amid heavy police presence they started demolishing the homes occupied by the Koli community. There has been court cases going against the redevelopment plan which is fraught with corruption and irregularities. False consent has been shown by the community, signatures have been forged of the people, who are not even alive and other such irregularities abound in the project. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan have been opposing the plans for evictions and demolitions. The development project is being implement by builder Sudhakar Reddy, who is a prominent devotee of Baba Ramdev and are accused of colluding in the illegality along with BMC.

In morning when the demolition squads arrived accompanied by a large police force then residents came out in huge numbers led by Medha Patkar and stood in front of the JCBs and Bulldozers. Police beat up and harassed those resisting demolitions. Male police was involved in beating and molesting women protesters too. As we write this the demolitions continue and so does the resistance from people. Meanwhile, Medha Patkar and seven others have been arrested by the Mumbai police on charges of obstructing public officials.

At this time demolitions are also being fiercely resisted by people in Ambujwadi, Malad where many homes of were demolished earlier as well.

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan – NAPM have been leading the struggle for a long time now in Mumbai and more specifically in these areas. We are hopeful that the people’s struggle will resist fiercely the land grab by the builders in connivance with the state machinery. We will expose the irregularities as we have done in the case of Adarsh Housing Society, Hiranandani Gardens, Golibar SRA by Shivalik Builders and others.

We condemn the arrests of the activists of the GBGB-NAPM and assault on the people by the police force who have been resisting peacefully the demolitions and striving to save their habitat and home.

Background :

Koliwada, indigenous fisherfolk Community have been living in the area from a long time on this patch of the land. In 1939 Britishers constructed NSP sheds for their own security purposes and they were asked to move to this. These NSP Sheds then were taken over by the Municipal Corporation after Independence. Even though these fisher people have lived on the land for more than a century they have been denied their “right to land”, due to the policies of the Britishers as well as BMC. BMC now in the name of development is evicting them and giving away the prime property to the Builders.

For details and update call : Madhuri Shivkar 09892143242 / Madhuri Variyath 09820619174