Transcripts of Videos, Interviews done by Karthik Ranganathan on Jan 19th, 2013
06:39 am : I received the first message of the day. “Evictions have begun and protests have begun here by women and children carrying photos of Ambedkar. Solidarity and media are needed.”
By the time I reached the EWS quarters around 07:30 am, the place was swarming with cops. A bulldozer was stationed across the road, near the petrol bunk. Some women residents were sitting at the entrance to the quarters, a few feet away from a line of policemen. After a few minutes of uneasy chatter, the police demanded the women blocking the entrance to move aside, saying that more officials will come over around 10:30 am. “Take up your questions and grievances with them.” Kaveri and Gee jumped in to say “ no we will not move from here.” and promptly squatted down.
I took the chance to talk to a couple of women.
07:57 am: Women residents speak out http://youtu.be/dNRzi33olvk
Woman 1 (speaking in Tamizh): “Been 12 years since I rented this place. Yesterday they gave us a biometric card, removed our belongings out. We spent the night in the cold, sitting outside, with our little children. My younger son suffers from kidney problem, requiring a monthly medical expense of Rs. 5000. How can I afford to set aside money for rent? These kids have exams next month. Where can we move now, with even advance notice?”
Woman 2 (speaking in Kannada): Breaking down – “We haven’t slept all night, we haven’t eaten. We won’t have jobs, we won’t have money, where do you expect us to go? For the last few days, we haven’t gone to work, simply out of the fear. We are scared to even go to work to the next house, and many of us have lost our jobs. Do we need to take our kids and go and live on the footpath? If they throw us out with our belongings? None of these people have slept. We are all one, living together like sisters. They are boys and girls of all ages living here. Where do we go now? What do we do now? If we were given some advance notice of a month, then we could have a month, but if they come all of a sudden and start breaking houses, what can we do?”
(Video Clip 14)
It turns out the common toilet for the women was demolished the previous day and the one of the water tanks was among the first to be demolished on Jan 19th (a little later in the day). What were the BBMP officials thinking? Definitely not about school children and their exams. Their concerns are the elections, which is why they are in such a big hurry to get it done.}
08:08 AM – Kaveri and Gee refuse to move http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHRMECH8GB0
Situation starts to get tense. Everybody’s congregating around the entrance, talking, moving around. Police start getting into the crowd, walking towards Kaveri, evidently identifying her as the focal point of the resistance. Kaveri, by now has squatted on the ground and is surrounded and badgered by the police to get up and vacate even as the police shoo others away from around Kaveri and Gee (standing behind Kaveri).
Kaveri: I’ll not leave this place and am just sitting here peacefully.
08:10: Police start to intimidate protestors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7ml42qnd3I
Policeman Y. Nagaraju gives instructions to the women policemen nearby to take Gee and Kaveri to the police station and starts asking Gee rather aggressively as what they are doing here, even as police surround the two of them. Finally Gee agrees to move and sit on the side of the road. A policeman with a handycam records everything happening around him.
08:12 Protesters argue with the Police https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x&v=ZQo71psvo-M
Policeman with the handycam addressing Kaveri and Gee –
Policeman: You know the law right? I have the High Court order with me, it does not prohibit eviction. Get me the stay order. Till then what you’re doing is illegal.
G and K: Show us the order.
Policeman: Come to the station and then we’ll show you the orders.’
G and K: Why should we come to the station, show us the order here”
“You have no business being here. Why are you here? I have proof to show you have nothing to do with this . We have the high court order. We have to give them protection, that’s what we’re doing here. Any protest you need to get permission from the police before this. Give us a letter requesting permission. If not, what you’re doing here is illegal”.
G: “Show us the eviction notice. You have not given it to anybody here”
Policeman: You have nothing to do with the eviction notice. Why do you bother? I have it right here with me.
“What is the proof that there is a house here”?
G and K point to a board on top of the shed. “Just because there is a board here, doesn’t mean that there was a house.
Other women: “If you arrest them, arrest us, we are all ready to face arrest” “We will not move from here”
A woman policeman starts shouting at Kaveri: “Which is your area and why are you here?”
Kaveri: This is my friend’s house and I have a right to be with my friends in their houses.”
Gee: “Tomorrow there will be no house.”
08:17 am Women residents argue with the Police:
Women residents start speaking out – Video can be seen here – Video 22
“We’ve been living here for 20 years.
There’s been no water, no electricity. All these years, no one came. And now you want to come here and throw us out?”
08:26: Karthik sends a message to various friends and activists – “Kaveri and Gee Ameina threatened with arrest. EWS quarters ejipura near National Games Village facing imminent demolition. Lots of police, bulldozers here. Need media. Need solidarity. Pls help. Pass this message. Email, facebook, sms.”
“If gents speak out, they are hauled into custody without question. They’ve already started demolitions.”
08:44 am Affected residents talk about earlier incidents https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=G_SgINrqjjs&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x
Lady talks about Kaveri and Gee and then recounts some of the incidents that have happened till now –
“Had they not been there yesterday, our lives would have ended yesterday itself. It is only because of them that we are here today.”
“Yesterday morning, everybody had gone to work. At 10-11 am, when people were at office, when children were at school, they had come to see who was not there, and brought the bulldozers. Yesterday they broke over 50 houses. There are a total of 42 blocks and 1512 houses. All 1512 flats were occupied till the buildings started collapsing in 2003-04. Then they went and demolished the whole thing. Since then we’ve been struggling here, there’s a lot of difficulty here. Power, water and bathroom were provided for free. Shed was constructed by Ashok. But MLA Harris is the one who is trying to get everybody thrown out.
“They’ve given us biometric cards, and asking us to go to Sulikunte after a year. Where will we stay for a year? All of us do domestic work around here. We typically get only Rs.1000 as pay, how can we be pay rent outside? How do we eat, get our kids educated? If we fall sick, how can we afford medical treatment? What we earn is just enough to feed ourselves, we cannot afford to pay rent outside. There are even beggars living here, where will they go? At least if you show us this is where you are going to stay, we will at least believe what you say and gamely try to rebuild our lives there. You just give us the card and expect us to vacate in the hope that we’ll get something after a year. The card given to us by Ashok is still of no use and we don’t see what this card will do.”
Lady to left: “They are cheating us, Anybody who asks questions is being put into jail.
Nobody is bothered about us, they don’t really care about the difficulties we face, they are just concerned about their own lives. Yesterday ladies were lathicharged. They destroyed the bathroom.
Both the police and the local leaders from the slum are heartless. The latter are seeing us, the troubles we face, but they don’t come forward to help us. They also seem intent on just chasing us out.
Karthik: The new houses that are going to be constructed- is everyone going to get a house and who all have been promised houses?
“There is no trust, sir”
K: Will only the original allottees receive houses?
The allottees (owners) have gone away after letting their houses on rent. We are the ones who have beeen living and struggling here for the last 18-20 years.
And now the allottees, after all these years, have come back to claim their compensation, they want us to leave this place.
K: The 30,000 has been give to the….
Women: Allottees, sir. We are the ones who have struggled with no water, no power, snakes, insects, rowdyism and even murders have happened here. We’re the ones who’ve lived through all these fears, all these years, and now the house and the compensation will go only to the owners.
K: Are any of the owners staying here?
W: Most of the people here live on rent.
K: Where do most of you work?
W: NGV, right opposite. Housekeeping work in other places in Koramangala. None of us work in offices.
K: And the men?
W: As coolies, auto drivers, painters, electricians. Else they roam around here, but ladies are the ones who leave the house and go out to work. “Right now, both the men and women are all at home. Our lives are ruined, our jobs are ruined, our houses our ruined. If we don’t go to work for 3 days in succession, we lose our jobs. We don’t have a livelihood, even place to stand here. So if we go there, to try and save our jobs, that’s when they come and demolish our houses. Is there light at the end of this tunnel?”
“The TV doesn’t report our story, sir. It doesn’t get published in any newspaper. All the channels regularly come here, but no one writes about us. There is no publicity. So they don’t let the general public know about our plight.
“We want people in other places to know about our situation, understand and help us out, but no one reports our story.”
Another woman enters:” They’re arresting the ladies! Even when women question the cops, they’re being arrested! My husband has run away, I’ve been thrown on the streets with my 3 children and all our belongings.
See! They have started lathicharging for having asked questions. Who can we go complain to, tell me, when the police itself is beating us?
We’ve been sitting here in the cold without water, without food, with our babies in hand, without a job. Without a job, we don’t have food, none of us have proper food. We didn’t go to work so we won’t get money.
This has been going on for a week.
Some of the women have broken arms and legs because of being lathicharged.”
A kid comes running: They’re taking them into a van!
I go to film the arrest.
08:52 am Police dragging away protesters into police vans https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x&v=JoSQHVMdfDE&feature=player_detailpage
Kaveri is being dragged by two women and one man. Gee is being dragged by 3 women.
8: 54 am: Brave women courting arrest https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Anr9bjmISmY&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x
(After Kaveri and Gee’s arrest)
“Isn’t there justice for us? Isn’t there anybody to see our tears?”
10:18 am: Interview with B.T.Ramesh, BBMP Executive Engineer
(B.T.Ramesh is the chief engineer in charge of the BBMP-Maverick partnership to demolish the quarters and construct new flats on 30% of the land and a commercial mall on the remaining 70% of the land.)
BT Ramesh, Executive Engineer, BBMP: “Yesterday, we vacated 500 houses. We can’t say when this whole job will get done, but we’re working on it. We want to finish it today, that is the target. There are totally 1512 for whom we constructed the sheds, but the original owners have gone out and given this on rent. So for those who are living on rent, we are taking down their details and we’ve identified a place , a 5 acre piece of land in Sulikunte. Survey no. 122. We are giving a biometric record and in Survey No. 122, we will be constructing houses for them via the Slum Board. We’ve given this to 150-200 people (on rent) who will be rehabilitated. Even among those who are living on rent, we are giving it to those who have been staying here for a long time. There are those who have moved in yesterday, a short while back etc. We cannot give it to everybody like that.”
12:06 pm: Interview with Aslam, affected resident https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x&v=eQoXXpkKjYY
Aslam (Resident, renter, whose house has been demolished, who has been give a chitti):
“I have been living here since 92. My house has been demolished and I’ve been given a piece of paper, I haven’t received any ID card.
Out of the 1512 original allottes, there are 500 original allottees living here now. Rent is anywhere between Rs. 150-250. 8 days back is when they told us they were going to demolish this. We weren’t given much notice, only told that there is a court order to demolish so we are going to demolish your houses. Last week, when they came, we tried telling them that children have their exams, and they relented, but yesterday they came back again. We’ve requested for time till May-June. But we have to fulfill the court order, so we have to demolish.”
“They even demolished my house which was locked at that time. All my belongings were inside, we hadn’t vacated the house and there was a lock on the door, and they still demolished it. They told us that they would be giving us a biometric card but I haven’t received it. There is a shamiana where a bunch of officials are inspecting the papers of allottees and confirming if any of them would be entitled to resettlements but they are not issuing biometric cards for the renters.”
12:15 pm Interview with Aslam Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol7vIYzG8so&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x&feature=player_detailpage
We’ve heard that Garudachari Uday has purchased this place. So there’s a project for EG mall out of which 5 acres will be reserved for allottees in 1512 houses. The court order says that once the people have been evicted, the new quarters will be built by the Garuda group. Because kids have to go to school, we’ve asked for time, people go to work nearby, the schools are nearby, once their exams are over, we can leave and go. Right now we are looking out for other places to rent, but we are not able to get a places. Because they’ve told us to leave either today or tomorrow, we are unable to find a new place to live given such short notice. I do painting work, there is no proper help for us. The biometric card supposedly has the Slum Boards number, the card will have a family photo.
K: Have they given you any documents regarding the move to Sulikunte?
A: There is no document, only words. They took a few people, showed them a random piece of land, and said this is the place, but we don’t know if that is even indeed the place they plan to move us. We’ve been seeing the same thing for over 10 yrs now. Even when the buildings were good, they said “we will relocate here’ ‘we will relocate you there” Even as only section became bad, all the blocks were demolished, even those that were good. They said ‘for now, we’ll build sheds for you and construct proper houses for you later, within the 5 acres.”
I’ve been living here right from the beginning, since ’92.
Woman: What did they give you? Any card?
A: Nothing. To the original allottees, they gave a card. And a cheque.
A woman pipers in: And us?
A: Do you have proof of ownership? (Yes) Then show it to them, get your house demolished and claim your cheque. (Did they evict you) What evict, they tore down my house. Belongings are inside (who’s done it).
Now see who comes.
Woman: Who, Garuda mall guys?
Slum board people will come.
A: Whatever proof of residence document gets signed on, saying that your house has been demolished, mentions the date and time of the signature.
K: Have you been given the card? Is it the same of the biometric card?
No. The biometric card will have the family photo. They took our docs, family photo, stating the names of all the family members, saying that this is what will be used to get us residence in Sulikunte. We also have a BPL Card and Aadhar card too.
K: Are there any groups who are fighting for you?
A: There was this Ambedkar Sangha, they’ve also become silent now and are nowhere to be found.
K: Are there just Dalits here?
A: No, all castes live here. (Sound of demolition in the background)
12:09 pm Interview with Nera, affected resident https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXB875iXbnY&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x
Woman: All my belongings were thrown out. My house number was written on a piece of papaer and given back to me. I don’t know what to do now.
Some people who have bought these houses from the original allottees, they’re still not clear whether they’ll receive the compensation due to the allottees.
(Shows proof that she had bought this house)
The person with the sale deed could have sold it to somebody else, he could have gotten a power of attorney to that person for the house. Those who have this power of attorney, they will not be given accommodation here, but will receive houses in Sulikunte)
K: Have they planned for any temporary accomodation for you all?
No we’ve not been given any temporary housing, we will have to find a place outside.
12:21 pm Aslam – Interview with Aslam Part 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD9NrpDey50&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x
“Yesterday they gave the biometric card first, then demolished the house first, today they just demolished. Yesterday, 300 houses were evicted and 600 today.
There are good chances that all the houses will be vacated by tomorrow.”
12:35 pm Activists argue with B.T. Ramesh
12:36 pm Activists argue with B.T. Ramesh Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGQhV1OYqP4&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x8_zx4J-Uo&list=PLWagunDHwgbPlTxF_c6Stsz8UicX1Aj4x