Mumbai – Fact finding report on demolition in Jai Ambe Nagar

February 28, 2013

Brief about the demolition

Demolition (7 February 2013) without following any guidelines, procedures and prior warning to one of the poorest sections of people living in Jai Ambe Nagar, Mumbai resulting in loss of livelihood, basic essentials goods, identity documents and accentuating a death of a three month old child (10 February 2013). The demolition left about 25-27 households without shelter, exposing them to the vagaries of nature and deprived them of right to livelihood and decent living condition, violating their human rights inspite of them belonging to the most marginalised and poorest section of the population.

Fact Finding Report

On the date 7 February 2013, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (BMC) carried out demolition of houses in the slum settlement in Jai Ambe Nagar, Mankhurd link road, Chembur. The demolition was carried out at around 11 a.m. in the morning and affected about 100-115 people, demolishing 25-27 huts of the poorest sections living in Mumbai including people from Pardhi and Masanjogi from Nomadic Tribes. The officials of BMC came with 2 trucks and 2 bulldozers for carrying out this demolition. However no prior notice was given to the resident members regarding such demolition process, which is in strict violation of legal provisions laid down for carrying demolition of slums. The demolition was carried out in haste and no time was given to the residents for taking and securing their belongings. They brushed the people aside and demolished their houses. Importantly, they confiscated most of their belongings and loaded those belongings in their trucks. Some acts of minor violence was reported, unleashed by the BMC officials over the uninformed residents. The residents who were taking their belongings were abused and hit by sticks.

The officials carrying out demolition were around 25-30 in number and women officials were also a part of the demolition team. The demolition took place for 2-3 hours. The belongings of the residents were confiscated which included all their minimally possessed basic essentials including clothes, blankets, utensils, trunks etc. Many people lost their money which they had kept in their storage boxes. People lost their ration cards, voter identity cards and other important documents which they acquired with a lot of difficulty. The officials also took away their building materials such as talpatri, bamboo sticks, wood blocks etc. which was the source of their livelihood thus leaving the residents with nothing of their own except for the clothes they were wearing.

The residents were scared of showing their resistance to the authorities and they did not pose any barriers to demolition. They merely wanted their minimal belongings whose possession was also denied by the authorities. When one of the residents wanted to secure his belongings during the demolition, he was hit on his wrist with a bamboo stick by the BMC demolisher. There was utter insensitivity and apathy exhibited by the BMC officials towards the residents of the poverty stricken community. They were ill- treated immensely and were subjected to verbal as well as physical abuse.

The next day (8 February 2013) many residents who had faced demolition went to the Municipal Corporation Office of Greater Mumbai to claim their belongings. There claims were not considered and they were denied their belongings.

As a result of this uninformed demolition carried out on 7 February 2013, and the forceful confiscation of basic goods of the residents by the BMC officials, people were left with no roofs and even blankets to cover themselves up. Subsequently among who huts were demolished, a couple named Nagesh Karminche and Yellamma Karminche were also bereft of their basic belongings. They had a young male child of three months named Durgappa. Due to lack of clothes and blankets, they could not cover up the child for two consecutive nights and they slept on the road without their blanket and bedding which was confiscated by the BMC officials for two days. And in the morning of 10 February 2013, at around 4:30 a.m they realized that their three month old baby is dead. The baby was healthy and was not suffering from any ailment at the time of his death. The baby was fine till about 11:00 p.m. on 9 February 2013, before they went off to sleep.

In the morning of 10 February 2013, at around 11:00 a.m. the bereaved and the grief-stricken family with the help of the other residents of the community called the police. The police came and took the child to Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar. The baby was declared dead by the doctors and the body was sent for post mortem. The post mortem report declared that the baby died due to pneumonia. The police wrote the panchnama in the hospital in the presence of the parents of the dead child. Meanwhile the whole incident was narrated to the police regarding the demolition and the confiscation of belongings of the residents. They were very clearly informed about the forceful confiscation of belongings by the BMC officials. When the residents asked about the future proceedings of the case, the police in the hospital showed little interest and stated that they will not indulge in any inquiries with the BMC officials and emphasized that the death of the baby and confiscation of goods (clothes, blankets)under demolition were separate and were not related.

Regarding the police response, there are certain noteworthy responses given by the police officials with respect to the case. When told about the demolition and confiscation of goods by the BMC authorities, and how because of that the residents were not left with any clothes to wear and sheets to cover themselves, one of the policeman commented that Mr. Nagesh karminche who is the father of the dead child and was wearing lungi (wrapped piece of cloth to cover the lower body) around his waist should have taken off his sole robe and should have covered the baby with it. Also the same policeman commented that a local club distributes clothes to the poor people and so the residents should have contacted them and asked for clothes which could have avoided the death of the baby. Such were the responses and remarks made by the police men on duty.

It has to be noted that the community of Jai Ambe Nagar where the demolition has taken place chiefly comprise of members of Nomadic tribes. Most of the residents live in sub-human conditions and live without most of the citizenship entitlements guranteed in the Constitution of India and particularly in the Directive Principles of State Policy. Most of the residents do not have fixed jobs and are engaged in temporary works including rag picking and are without identity documents. The parents of the dead child are from Masanjogi tribe and are daily wage workers. The family had just one child and after the tragic-untimely death, the family has broken down completely. It is imperative that the state authorities return the basic essentials goods confiscated during the demolition of the affected residents of Jai Ambe Nagar and provide adequate compensation to the bereaved family and other residents to live with dignity.