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Jalandhar

Posted at: Sep 14, 2017, 12:58 AM; last updated: Sep 14, 2017, 12:58 AM (IST)

200 slum dwellers booked for protesting demolition campaign

200 slum dwellers booked for protesting demolition campaign
The shanties at Kang Sabo village, which have been shifted near Chitti Bein. Tribune photo

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 13

As many as 200 dwellers of the Kang Sabo slum, situated near Chitti Bein, have been booked for opposing the razing of their shanties by the administration. They were lathi-charged when they began protest on the Jalandhar-Nakodar Highway on September 11.

Over 300 people living in the slum at Kang Sabo village alongside the Jalandhar-Nakodar highway, face immediate displacement due to the construction of a highway stretch on the site of their shanties by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

About five kanal land has temporarily been allocated to them to shift their shanties, right at the back of the present settlement. This too comes without a written declaration and makes them more susceptible to floods and overflowing of the river due to the increased proximity to Chitti Bein.

While the settlement has votes of as many as 300 people, these people are peeved at their abrupt displacement as they had been moved to the current spot on the administration’s insistence in 1999. The occupation of dwellers, who include the poorest of the poor, includes boot polishing, begging, scrap dealing among other menial jobs.

Sans electricity, BPL cards or health cards under the Bhagat Puran Insurance Scheme, they rued while politicians made a beeline to their settlements during elections, all promises made to them were quickly forgotten later.

Nand Lal (40), the head of the village who was himself a part of the protest, said, “During elections, politicians get pictures clicked with us. We are tricked into voting for them. And the moment elections get over, they refuse to even recognise us. When the word got out regarding the construction of the road, a delegation of villagers visited MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala. We were told he was outside. So far we haven’t been able to get an audience with him.”

School faces razing

Pastor Sudhir, who runs a church in the area and has also opened a school where he teaches as many as 70 children of the slum, says, “Since all the shanties on this land are about to go, the administration is also about to rob the children of the only source of education they have got. The school as well as the church are going to be razed. And while we built them with a substantial amount of money which came from donations from do-gooders, so far there is no promise from the administration to build new buildings on the new land.”

Residents in no man’s land

Sunita, a resident of the area, said, “In 1999, we were shifted from the Rama Mandi area and settled here. Now we are being asked to shift to the back of this land. We have no written declaration, no promise from the administration. While as per the scheme initiated by the Centre to ensure 5 marla plots to us, we had been told that we would get the land in the Kang Sabo village. However, since the villagers aren’t even willing to accommodate us, that project also stays in limbo.”

Electricity and BPL cards

Residents said on an assurance from a political leader in 2015 they had been promised electricity, for which each family paid an amount of Rs 1,400 to the local SDO. Nand Lal said, “Till date, we haven’t received electricity, nor have we been returned the amount. We are from poor families and earning merely Rs 250 per day. Is it fair for the administration to dupe us like this?” None of the dwellers have a BPL card either even though they claim to have requested for several times.

Pendu Mazdoor Union

Activist Kashmir Singh Ghugshore, whose Pendu Mazdoor Union (PMU) expressed solidarity to the protest regarding the said land on September 11, said, “The cases against the dwellers should be immediately dismissed. Since the new land does not come with any guarantee, they should be rehabilitated at the Kang Sabo village as per the Central scheme. We shall also take up the issue of the land at the PMU protest for land rights on September 15.”

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