The Karnataka High Court has taken cognizance of a letter written by Advocate Vaishali Hegde detailing how temporary shanties of migrants workers were charred to the ground near the Sunday Bazaar in Kachakaranahalli in Bengaluru East.
LiveLaw reported that Chief Justice Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty directed the registrar to make the State government and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike as the respondents. The matter will be heard on June 11.
There seems to be no end for the troubles of hapless migrant workers who have suffered myriad hardships
The letter highlights the brazen act of rowdy elements who deliberately set fire to shanties/huts only to dispossess poor migrant workers from the shelter. The letter states that newspaper reports suggest that the police remained mute spectators and did not come to the aid of the poor labourers while citing some court case pending before the office of the Deputy Commissioner. The letter urged the court to send a strong message to such rowdy elements that a “society governed by the rule of law would not tolerate such brazen illegal actions”.
Further, the letter states, “This court has been dealing with suo moto public interest litigation pertaining to the hardships and sufferings being faced by migrant labourers. This issue is treated as a suo moto PIL and monitor an appropriate investigation into the matter by ensuring the guilty are brought to book and not left to escape the clutches of law. It is also sought that directions be issued to the state and its authorities to provide requisite shelter, food, and other facilities to the unfortunate poor migrant labourers.”
Sabrang India had reported the incident, “the homes of these migrants were set ablaze while they were stuck in their villages in Kalaburgi due to the lockdown. The children of the migrants, some of whom were to appear for the SSLC examinations also face an uncertain future as all their books were burnt during the incident.”
A report by The Times of India read that on April 25, a group of people tried to set the homes on fire, however, they fled when those migrants who had stayed back during the lockdown, resisted. Yet, the miscreants returned two days later and not only burnt down the homes but also took away vessels and tarpaulin sheets which served as roofs. The returnee migrants alleged that when they tried to rebuild their homes, they were stopped by the local police from doing so and were threatened that they would be lathi-charged if they continued to rebuild their homes. This, even when the migrants said that they had authentic voter IDs and ID cards by the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) showing that they were residents of the area.
P Anand, Ward Corporator HBR told Sabrang India, “We don’t know who is behind the incident yet. We have filed an FIR at the KG Halli Police station. I’ve also complained to the ward engineer and revenue officer about this. What was done is very wrong. We are now providing food to the homeless and have even provided fees to the children. On June 3rd, the MLA will speak to the government about the matter.”
KG Halli police inspector Ajay Sarathi also spoke to Sabrang India and said, “There were around 20 to 30 huts that have been burnt. The matter is still under investigation.”
Earlier this year in January, when the country was in the thick of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests, many daily wage earners in Kariyammana Agrahara in Bengaluru were rendered homeless after a demolition drive. Around 200 tin and tarpaulin sheds were taken down in Kariyammana Agrahara and approximately 500 similar structures were razed down in Deverabeesanahalli. The authorities who conducted the demolition drive had claimed that the families were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Basically, the predicaments of the poor labourers have only augmented right from the beginning of the year. This suo moto petition will hopefully bring them some justice.