January 25, 2013
Residents and rights activists who gathered outside the Karnataka Chief Minister’s residence on Friday morning to protest the demolition of the EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) Quarters in Ejipura were moved to Crescent Road by the police. Though the protestors were promised an audience at 10 a.m. they were turned away by policemen.
On Thursday night, residents of this large shantytown spent their fourth consecutive night out on the streets. At least 2,000 families were rendered homeless after a three-day demolition drive last week. On Tuesday, a 60-year-old woman, Rosemary, who was evicted along with her family, died allegedly due to trauma.
Besides rehabilitation, residents are demanding that they be allowed to stay on at Ejipura till the end of the academic year. Since Tuesday, several senior officials and politicians including the Home Minister had assured them that the government would erect make-shift structures in a section of the plot in order to allow the residents to stay on till April.
However, Isaac Amruthraj, an activist, pointed out that nothing had changed on the ground, and the policemen came every hour to “build pressure” on residents to leave. “Late into the night they keep coming and threatening them. Everyone including Home Minister R. Ashok, BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah and Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath has told us that this was a mistake. But what are they doing to rectify it?” he asked.
Residents also alleged that some persons who claim to represent the area MLA, N.A. Haris, were promising them Rs. 2,000 as “instant compensation” if they vacated the area immediately.
The Ejipura group that reassembled at Crescent Road includes students, members of non-governmental organisations, dalit rights activists, members of the Samata Sainik Dal and Dalit Sangharshana Samiti, and a few representatives of farmers’ rights groups.