On the 24th of November, the police and state officials had come to demolish homes in Ganesh Krupa Society in Golibar slum, Mumbai. Hundreds of residents from across the slum resisted demolition. By evening not a single brick had been broken in Golibar and the police had gone, expected to come the next day.
The police and MHADA officials had entered Ganesh Krupa Society of the slum of Golibar, Mumbai to demolish homes as per a High Court Order that had asked the slum dwellers to vacate their homes by the 30th of October.
While the state alleges that the slum-dwellers are violating the Court Order, the State, in fact, is under the threat of Contempt of Court as they, along with the developers Shivalik Ventures, have yet to provide a liveable transit camp to the residents of Ganesh Krupa Society.
The state officials and the police had first gone to break down the homes of Allahuddin Abbas and Mohammed Afzal. Almost all of the residents of Golibar came to their defense.
The women of Ganesh Krupa Society hurled abuses and accusations at the police and officials from the narrow-corridors leading to their homes.
For one, they didn’t choose their developer Shivalik Ventures, which they have been guaranteed under the Slum Rehabilitation Act. Secondly, they allege their developer had fraudulently acquired their signatures. Thirdly, the developer isn’t offering the residents transit camps worth living in. Fourthly, ‘first you give everyone else a flat,’ Screamed the residents of Golibar, ‘Then you break our homes.’
The Day The People Won
By afternoon, the people didn’t let the police touch a single brick, and didn’t leave their neighbours, who stood before their doors. And while the police and the residents continued to argue at the passageway to Mr.Abbas’ and Mr.Afzal’s home, thousands of agitated residents across Golibar had even gathered upon the rubble of what used to be Shivaji Nagar Society and Hanuman Society of Golibar, where police vans and demolition teams stood.
Arguments started in every cluster where there was an official – around inspectors, around MHADA officials, around the Deputy Collector and even officials from the builders. Kiran Jadhav, one of the main representatives from the developer Shivalik Ventures, spoke about all the ‘good’ the developers had done and he was jeered immediately by people who called him a liar. The people repeated asked the police why they hadn’t arrested the developer for fraud, and forgery.
‘I’m neutral, we’re just here to protect law and order.’ Replied Inspector Mane.
‘And what about the laws the builder broke?’
The Inspector, like most of the policemen who were asked that question, had nothing to say. In fact, the First Information Report that had been lodged against the builders for forgery was only lodged when the Court had ordered the police to do so. The police had completely ignored the people initially, and claimed ‘investigations’ were on.
Two of the residents of Golibar, Sudesh Paware and Prerna Gaekwad stood in the police-van and discussed matters with MHADA officials and members of police.
‘They (the officials) were telling us to at least let us break two homes,’ Says Prerna Gaekwad, one of the ‘leaders’ of an almost leaderless movement against the builders, ‘If two go now, all of them will go.’
‘Here see, these are the MHADA people,’ Said one resident angrily, taking a film crew to around seven officials sitting quietly.
‘When I go to see them, they never see me, but when it comes to the builder’s work, they have all day for him.’
The residents started to scream at them, accuse them of working with the builders, as the MHADA officials slowly get up and walk away and sit in the homes of one of the brokers of the society, who is also a well-known goonda.
By 5:30 in the evening, the police and the MHADA officials left without breaking the homes of the people. They promised to come the next day.
Meanwhile, a few residents of Golibar, along with Simpreet Singh of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan had managed to meet the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan, and had gotten a verbal order from him to stop the demolitions.
The day after, newspaper clippings of the delegation of Golibar meeting the Chief Minister were posted everywhere in the slum. There was even a notice that Simpreet Singh and Medha Patker would arrive in the evening for a meeting with the people of Golibar. This meeting on the road turned out into an impromptu public meeting of over 3000 people of Golibar. Ganesh Krupa Society’s ‘victory’ the previous day, inspired the rest of Golibar.
On the 28th of November, four people, alleged to be working for the builders, including one of the previous residents of Ganesh Krupa society, had assaulted resident Dutta Mane of Ganesh Krupa society as he was collecting signatures for a letter meant to be delivered to everyone from the Chief Minister, to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority to the Income Tax Department.
They hurled a stone at him, leaving him with a bruised eyebrow and a cut on his head that required stitches. His shirt and face were covered in blood. The people of Golibar were furious. They marched to the Nirmal Nagar police station to register their complaint. They stood outside screaming slogans against the builders, as the witnesses traipsed around, for their statements to be heard.
‘They even threatened Sudesh’s wife.’ Said one of the residents of Golibar, “They told her, ‘just wait and see what we will do to your husband.’”
Meanwhile, Sudesh’s older brother Rajan had arrived outside the police station. In a strange twist of fate, he is one of the brokers or ‘dalaals’ of Shivalik Ventures.
Screaming is heard. People from inside the police station rush outside. Policemen rush outside.
Rajan was attacked by the residents of Golibar, calling him a traitor. Another resident rescued him from his ex-nieghbours and took him inside the police station. Another broker and once-resident also arrived and was again surrounded by the mob. The police managed to save him from the residents. And took him inside. Residents started to advise their neighbours to subsist from unnecessary violence.
Policemen started to tell the people to calm down, ‘you will dilute your own case this way.’
‘You don’t want a cross-FIR now, no?’ Continued Inspector Nath. The people listened. One man says, ‘None of this would’ve happened if you didn’t file the FIR in the first place, or throw the attackers in jail.’
The anger of the people was creeping out. The police eventually filed the FIR against the attackers of Dutta Mane, and arrest one of them under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code.
In the evening, Rajan threatens his brother Sudesh again.
Again, Golibar waits for the bulldozers.
When the police and MHADA officals arrived in the morning, they had first gone to break down the homes of Mohammed Afzal and Niyazul Haque.
Nearby, residents of Golibar gathered to offer support.
Prerna Gaekwad, one of the ‘leader’s of an almost leaderless movement stands before the police.
Mr.Afzal stands before the doors of his home as the police argue with residents.
The women of Golibar were frank and expressive about their views, often accusing the police of being hand-in-gloves with the builders and corporations.
Behind Ganesh Krupa Society, where once Shivaji Nagar Society stood, hundreds of agitated residents surrounded officials.
Prerna Gaekwad and Sudesh Paware (background) talk to MHADA officials and policemen about the numerous frauds committed by the developer. No officials had any answer.
Residents react to the police retreating from their homes without touching a single brick.