Bengaluru: Fear and loathing in India’s Silicon Valley

BBMP's over enthusiastic demolition drive to remove illigal migrants has made the life of poor Indians even more perilous. The homeless included many poor daily wage labourers from North Karnataka.

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Even today as Home Minister Amit Shah announces that -“CAA will not affect Indian citizens… Come what may, citizenship amendment act will not be withdrawn”; Bangalore slum dwellers become the first victim of the hysteria whipped up by the NRC-CAA combine.

This Sunday, 19.1.2020, Bangalore Bruhat Mahanagara palike (BBMP) razed around 100-150 sheds in a settlement around kariyammana Agrahara in Bellandur area claiming that they are built illegally on private property and are occupied by Bangladeshis.

Last couple of weeks, BJP and its ministers have been trying to convince the Indian public that CAA- NRC will not harm any Indian. But as Bangalore Municipal corporation demolished the slums in Bangalore Marathahalli area this Sunday, all the claims of -Modi-Shah also came crumbling down.

BBMP demolished the sheds of people who came from not just West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Bihar but even closer to home, from North Karnataka. This has landed the BBMP, Marathahalli police and BJP MLA Arvind Limbavali in hot soup.

As the news broke out that the residents in the slums are Indians and have documents to prove but police did not even care to look at their documents, the BBMP and police are blaming each other.

Living under constant fear

This has not eased the atmosphere of terror among the slum dwellers, most of them daily wage labourers working in waste segregation and as housemaids.

Gauri Lankesh news spoke with the residents who were terrified to talk to the media because of the Suvarna news sting operation. They were afraid that they will also be framed.

Gauri Lankesh news spoke to the person whom Suvarna news spoke to and circulated as a sting on the presence of illegal migrants. He is Chiafaddin Sekh, native of Murshidabad in West bengal. The reporter from Suvarna News asked him where are you from to which he said i am from Murshidabad. he then asked who is your MLA, he answered Adhir ranjan Choudhury. The reporter then said you are Bangaladeshi to which Chiafuddin said- Aami bangla ( I am Bengali). Suvrana news used this as ‘evidence’ of presence of Bangaldeshi migrants.

We spoke to the migrants from North Karnataka as well, whose homes were also demolished, they also work as waste segregators and work under contract with BBMP.

They showed their voter I- card and PAN cards. The ones from Assam even showed their names in the NRC documents.

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They were surprised that why nobody asked them for their documents. Most of them have stories of regular harassment from the police and BBMP.

As of today, police have picked up 10 people from the Tubhrahalli slum area, no reason was given for the arrest.

Marathahalli and neighboring areas are home to many employees from the Bengaluru IT industry. Residents come from various parts of India. Most of them rely on domestic help.  It is the women from these slums who work as domestic workers in their houses.

In most of these slums, residents work as waste segregators, living amidst waste plastic, papers and metal scrap. Other work with Urban clap as cleaners or as drivers in the neighboring schools. There are around 10 schools in the neighborhood.

The slum dwellers don’t just live in constant fear of eviction but since the news of NRC is doing the rounds, the fear of being labeled as bangaldeshi and foreigners has increased their concerns.

Suvarna News, Arvind Limbavali and BBMP 

A few days ago, Suvarna news carried a ‘sting’ operation claiming Bangladeshi migrants were illegally staying in the area. The ‘sensational’ video was shared widely on social media and was shared by BJP MLA from Mahadevpura Arvind Limbavali with claims of the slums being illegally occupied by Bangladeshi migrants and How NRC and CAA should be implemented and these people should be removed.

Sunday,19.1.2020, Marathahalli police and BBMP officials came with demolition orders that said, it is believed that there are “Bangladeshi” migrants here, so we are carrying out the demolition drive.

Talking to the residents of neighboring slums it became clear that the plan was to carry out the demolition in 4-5 slums in the Marathahalli area.

Police also threatened the residents of neighboring slums in Tubhrahalli and Kundanahalli to vacate the place in 2 hours before they bring JCB. Some activists and lawyers intervened saying the assistant engineer does not have the authority to carry out such a drive. The slums are on private property and such a demolition order is unauthorized. After that police left the place and didnt come back.

On Tuesday, BBMP commissioner also confirmed that the demolition was unauthorized and the engineer who has given demolition orders has been suspended. The slums are on private land and technically BBMP assistant executive engineer does not have the authority to send the order.

BBMP has washed its hands off the issue by suspending the Assistant engineer, police claim that they were just following the orders to provide protection to the BBMP officials. But nobody is asking any questions to Suvarna News and Arvind Limbavali. The Question remain…

Did Suvarna news and BJP MLA Arvind Limbavali spread fake news to create hysteria of illegal migrants in Bangalore without any fact check?

 

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