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People’s Movements issue ultimatum to Jharkhand Government;
Demonstration at Delhi’s Jharkhand Bhawan demands immediate halt to ongoing evictions

New Delhi, 19th May 2011 – Mass organisations, Trade Unions and different city based activist groups today demonstrated outside the Jharkhand Bhawan, demanding immediate stopping of the inhuman evictions that are going on in different parts of Jharkhand. The groups were led by National Alliance of People’ Movements (NAPM), National Hawkers’ Federations, SUCI-Delhi, AISA, AICCTU, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), INSAF, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Shahri Mahila Kamgar Union and Rashtriya Gharelu Kamgar Union.

Key Concerns raised: The demolition and eviction of slum dwellers, low income group colonies, hawkers and other such working poor populations in Ranchi, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Giridih, Jamshedpur and other small and large places (urban to semi urban and  rural) from the public lands where they have been residing since birth or for more than three decades has brought in extreme deprivation or even death. In one stroke, the Jharkhand Government, on the basis of High Court orders, has made thousands of families shelter-less and a large number of people have lost access to livelihood as well as the basic services and amenities in life including education, water, sanitation, health facilities and even their belongings. The destructive and fast paced demolition drive began since early April and has been brutal. The state government literally unleashed police as well as special/rapid action force for the same. Notorious as they are, these forces have made inhuman attacks on hapless and unarmed people, including the women, children, young and the aged. The evicted people’s plight today is pathetic: lying in the open, under hot sun, with no relief from the state government or the agencies that usually perform relief actions.

Evictions, without providing constitutional rights – Without doubt, these evictions, performed under the HC orders, are the worst man-made calamity that has struck Jharkhand in many years. Where they could have made available provisions of law to protect the lives and livelihoods of large masses of urban poor (including by providing rehabilitation or alternate livelihood – prior to starting of “anti-encroacher drive”), the HC and the Government machinery, both opted to shut their eyes to the realities of these working people, which make them ‘encroachers’ in public lands. The evictions have been a total violation of the constitutional right  to shelter which is also the part and parcel of the right  to life under Article 21 and also the  United Nation’s Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development Based Evictions and Displacement including  the principles enshrined UN economic social and cultural rights.

Public Land vis-à-vis Government claims – The reality of Jharkhand and many parts of India is that landless people live and work on public lands, not owned by them under private property laws. The conflict in most places is between communities residing in such lands and a faceless government that claims these lands to be ‘governmental property’. In states like Jharkhand, these have been largely tribal owned, community lands and traditional commons. It is ridiculous that the government is making a claim over it, considering that the state itself was formed only a decade back.

Injustice to Adivasis as well as non-tribal poor populations; games by land mafia and government – It must be mentioned here that in some lands, the land mafia led by religious groups and vested interest politicians have used poor workers from outside the region as buffers to capture adivasis lands and convert them as markets or other livelihood sources. Some adivasis groups have also been demanding that such lands be now returned to the original owners, the tribal communities who were evicted or displaced from their ancestral lands. We consider this to be the time to correct mistakes of the past and rectify injustice done to any community or group in the past. It is also time for the working people to stand together against both the repressive state and the urban land mafia. Today, Jharkhand’s adivasis and rural poor are fighting for their lands with the corporations and the police led state and the urban workers are trying to protect their land and livelihood by resisting the police and an irresponsible state. It is time for these forces to come together and forge alliances. It is also the time to remove vested interest groups, political crooks and religious leadership from converting these battles for their benefits.

Punish the guilty, save the victims – The deaths that occurred during firing in Ranchi, Dhanbad and firing that caused shock related death in Dhanbad are not yet enquired into. The people are not even being heard by the authorities nor are they provided even the basic relief amidst serious health and medical issues and threat of mass epidemics. Students in thousands have missed their examinations in March-April and the sick, aged are not being attended to.

Through a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister (through Resident Commissioner of Jharkhand Bhawan, Delhi), the activists demanded that:

1. Stop the ‘anti-encroachment’ drive immediately
2. Provide emergency and ‘war footing’ relief to all those impacted by the present set of evictions that have been happening
3. Provide rehabilitation (land, shelter with livelihood sources) to all those evicted from public and private lands in the state
4. Property rights to be given to all slum dwellers by legislation as prescribed by Rajiv Awas Yojana of Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
5. Enact a new law on Rehabilitation of slum dwellers as part of State Slum Act. Incorporate the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development based Evictions and Displacement in the State law.
6. Implement the National Policy for Street Vendors in the urban areas as directed by the Supreme Court in Gainda Ram & Ors. V. MCD and Ors. Ensure the legal space for hawkers in roads as per the policy. Compensation need to be given to all the hawkers whose goods were confiscated without taking into account the National Policy for Street Vendors.
7. Jharkhand Government immediately pass an ordinance to the above effect

For more information Contact : Rajendra Ravi : 9868200316, Shyamal : 9868573409, Kavita Krishnan : 9560756628

To see the photographs of the demolition in Jharkhand click : https://picasaweb.google.com/maju.varghese/DemolitionsInJharkhandApril2011#

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