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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest > India: Thousands in Mandala (Bombay) take back their land | Solidarity (...)

India: Thousands in Mandala (Bombay) take back their land | Solidarity Protest in Delhi on 3 June 2014

2 June 2015

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[see below for update - 3 June 2015]

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan
26 May 2015 12:22:59 -0700 (PDT)

Thousands of slum dwellers, who had been displaced from Mandala over ten years ago, came together today to reclaim their land and rebuild their houses, in a historic struggle for right to housing and basic facilities of urban poor in Mumbai.

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In 2004-05, over 75,000 people residing in slums of Mumbai were brutally evicted and their homes bulldozed. Ten years and several promises later, people are still homeless. With the swelling up of urban slums, the denial of basic facilities, social security and equitable share in the development gains has also continued. It was in this context that the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan began and since then, has succeeded in ensuring a voice as well as rights of many slum dwellers.

Thousands of poor having been raising the question of their rights of housing in front of every ministry, every department, every forum, and even to Sonia Gandhi and Margret Alwa who had promised in their Congress manifesto, the rights of the slum dwellers. Time and again, they have been manhandled, beaten up, arrested, tortured and the martyrdom of a small girl strengthened the struggle for justice. At the heart of the struggle are the instances of inequality, of corruption in SRA, of leasing out of land at 40 paise/acre to builder Hiranandani, non-distribution of available land to the poor.

The slum dwellers, who struggle hard to make the ends meet, who cannot afford to buy even two yards of land for themselves, never demanded a house for free, instead even agreed to have not individual but houses considering slum or the community as a unit and proposed to make houses on the land they were residing themselves, yet they were never supported by the administration. They have also been proposing alternatives and suggestions on the possibility to give housing to thousands of people in Mumbai if done so as per the need, with utilizing the ceiling land and collecting funds on the land leased out to builders for free. While many of these suggestions were approved in the Rajeev Awas Yojna (RAY), the assurance to launch the pilot project of RAY in Mandala remained unfulfilled even today.

Today, over three thousand people gathered and collectively occupied the land that has been lying vacant since the demolition several years ago, and have started work to build their homes. Volunteers from the basti are helping demarcate boundaries based on where each had lived earlier. The plan is to build 3000 homes in the next few days. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan launched the Awaas Haq Satyagraha (Struggle for Right to Housing) along with residents of Mandala, supported by basti dwellers from across the city. This is a historic claim that people are making, taking matters into their own hands to assert their basic rights to housing in a time where land is being increasingly doled out to the builder and corporate lobbies.

The Andolan will continue till people get what is rightfully theirs. For details or if you want to come to Mandala, please call Atiq ( 98217 16910) or Umar bhai (88791 66606).

Zindabad!

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[Call for Demonstration]

Solidarity with Awas Haq Satyagrah, Mandala (Mumbai)

Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi | 3rd June, 11am

The on-going Awas Haq Satyagrah in Mumbai has entered its 8th day today, with 2nd day of relay fast, to demand right to housing and basic amenities in the slum of Mandala, Mankhurd. In a brutal demolition drive in 2004-05, more than 3,000 families were forcefully evicted with their homes and property being damaged. During the UPA government, the Ministry of Urban Development had announced a pilot project of the Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) and had chosen Mandala to launch it. However, the promise remained unfulfilled. Ten years and several promises later, people are still homeless and continue to face oppression at the hand of corrupt builder-police-politician nexus.

On 26th May, thousands of people from Mandala and supporters from other slums of Mumbai gathered and collectively occupied the land that has been lying vacant since the demolition several years ago to launch the Satyagrah. However, there has been no response from the government so far. The recent news of diluting the RAY to favour the builder corporate lobby is another example of government’s callousness.

To stand in solidarity with the on-going struggle in Mandala (Mumbai) as well as to highlight the need for right to housing, shelter, basic amenities and right of the poor over urban spaces, we call upon the concerned groups and individuals to come in large numbers in front of Maharashtra Sadan (address: Maharashtra Sadan, Copernicus Marg, Near Haryana Bhawan, New Delhi) on 3rd June from 11 am onwards.

National Alliance of People’s Movements, Delhi Solidarity Group and others
Contact: 9643349452

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[Text of Press release after 3 June Demo in Delhi]

PRESS RELEASE

Protest held at Maharashtra Sadan, Delhi in solidarity with the on - going Awaas Haq Satyagraha at Mandala, Mumbai

New Delhi, 3rd June 2015: Various organizations held a demonstration at the Maharashtra Sadan, Delhi in solidarity with the slum dwellers who are holding Awaas Haq Satyagraha at Mandala, Mumbai since 26th May 2015. Thousands of slum dwellers, who had been displaced over ten years ago in 2004-05, came together to reclaim their land and rebuild their houses, in a historic struggle for right to housing and basic facilities in Mumbai. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan launched the Awaas Haq Satyagraha (Struggle for Right to Housing) in Mandala, supported by basti dwellers from across the city and at least 5 thousand slum dwellers continued the satyagraha for a week. Mandala is the first of its kind. It’s time for the city’s most exploited to assert their idenity, and claim their share from this city. Awaas Haq Satyagraha, is a historic Housing Rights movement where 5000 people who were displaced in 2004 – 05 from their homes in a demolition drive have returned and occupied 55 acres of prime land and declared mutiny.

Even after 7 days of satyagraha, the government did not indulge in a dialogue with the protestors. Since the past 3 days people at Mandala have been sitting on a relay fast to pressurize the government to have a dialogue with them and it is only now that the collector has given an appointment to meet with the people tomorrow. The government till now has been mostly indifferent to the demands of the Satyagrahis.

Everybody is frustrated by the false claims of the government, from farmers to industrial and construction labour, but the people of Mandala have set an example of resistance unmatched until now in the urban mindscape. People have taken a leave from their daily jobs, they have come back from their native land of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, left wedding unattended just to be a part of the Awaas Haq Satyagraha. Satyagrahis have demarcated the occupied land and mapped it out to start building their own homes in clear defiance to the tall claims of Rajiv Awas Yojana. A community school has been announced. Already people are badgering the administration to provide toilets and safe drinking water in the occupied land. Earlier, hawkers and vendors who had gathered in the protest grounds selling snacks and drinks were hounded by the police, but the community protected the rights of these small traders by facing the police. A relay fast has now begun and Satyagrahi after Satyagrahi is continuing the non-stop fast until their demands are met. The administration is silent. The city is not used to the voice of people living in slums. But the voices are getting louder and louder. Political factions and progressive citizens are coming forward in support of the movement. It’s important for the Mandala movement to succeed, to secure the rights it is fighting for. It is important because the patience of crores of people living precariously in this city is running out. It is important for the future of the city which can no more be built on the foundations of inequality. It is important if one wants the city to retain its soul.

In Delhi, the situation of slum demolition and displacement is similar and a struggle for getting rights over urban space and resources continues. Few organizations like National Alliance of People’s Movements, Delhi Solidarity Group, Jhuggi Jhopdi Ekta Manch, Yuva, Housing and Land Rights Network, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan, Sangharsh Vahini and Khudai Khidmatgar expressed their solidarity with the people of Mandala. A memorandum was submitted to the Resident Commissioner asking the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to have a dialogue with the ’Satyagrahis’ instead of being negligent towards them.