Bengaluru: An anti-corruption forum – We the People of Bengaluru (WPB) – has shot off letters to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the state government’s “arbitrary and ad hoc” demolition of hundreds of residential and commercial buildings sitting on storm water drains in Bengaluru last week.
“There should be no surprise over which property would come under the axe and which would be spared when both are built on a drain. The lack of transparency has created monstrous suffering for the people,” said Dr Dominic F. Dixon, member of the UN, Core Diplomatic Programme in Geneva, UN Headquarters.
“Almost all those who will lose their houses are also losing their life savings. It is necessary for the government to create a record of destruction, which is not being followed here. Errant people cannot be satisfactorily hauled up in a court at a later stage if there are discrepancies,” said Mr K.V. Dhananjay, a senior Supreme Court lawyer.
Don’t abandon, rehab them: Activists
Human Rights activists have come down heavily on the recent arbitrary and ad-hoc demolition drives taken up the government without giving any thought about rehabilitation for the displaced citizens.
“The state government has violated human rights blatantly. How can a government displace its own people? There is no difference between Syria, Libya or Bengaluru. In 2016, when countries are taking in refugees, Bengaluru is causing a refugee crisis by displaying that we live in a third world city due to third world politicians,” said Dr Dominic Dixon, consulting director for Academics, International Law and Justice UNITAR.
“In developed and developing countries, the government will ensure that their citizens do not become victims of circumstances. In the Bengaluru context, the citizens have become the victims of circumstances. The plight of people who have been victims of a natural disaster have made the government wake up from its deep slumber and with its hasty decisions it is continuing to make another set of people victims of a governmental disaster,” said Mr Dixon, who is taking up the case with the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
“Here is a government that is putting salt into the injuries of already hurt by providing no rehabilitation measures for the displaced, leaving them to fend for themselves. Firstly, the citizens feel they have been swindled by governmental officials and builders which had led to this fate,” Dixon said.
“Ideally the state should have come up with a bill in the sessions similar to that of the 2013 Land Acquisition Bill, where the government will house the people who are going to be displaced because of its action, as even government officials and builders were a part of the scam to a major extent,” he added.
‘Will star hotels, big malls be demolished?’
Members of an anti-corruption forum We the People of Bengaluru (WPB) have urged the government to carry out demolitions without any discrimination.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, the members told reporters, “There are at least two five star hotels and a shopping mall that has numerous foreign retail outlets, which are built over storm water drains. The public expects the government to pull down these structures as well. However, if the government winds up its demolition drive simply because it is unwilling to raze down the five star hotels and the mall, it is clear discrimination and will worsen the suffering of all the people whose structures were already razed down hastily and mercilessly.”
“The people who resisted the demolition of their houses will cast doubts on the motive of the government to take this demolition drive to its logical conclusion - razing down every structure that blocks the storm water drain. They will feel abandoned is the government refuses to touch places belonging to highly influential and the wealthy,” said K.V. Dhananjay, Supreme Court senior lawyer.
“If the Government won't even touch the five star hotels, we demand that it reconstruct all the houses that it has demolished so far. This demolition drive would be anti-people if it only targets the poor and middle classes, while leaving the wealthy to bend the law at their will,” Dhananjay added....