February 12, 2005

Sample Letter of Protest for Faxing (drwn up by NAPM activists)


1) The Prime Minister of India - Fax : 011 - 23016857 / 23019817
2) Mrs. Sonia Gandhi - Fax : 011 - 23018651
3) The Chief Minister of Maharashtra -022 - 23631446
4) The Deputy Chief Minister, Maharashtra - 022 - 23631505

Dear Sir / Madam,

We are shocked and most perturbed to witness the most blatant human rights violations taking place in the enlightened and prosperous State of Maharashtra, committed by the State itself. I am sure that we need not spell out that all forced evictions destroy not just the families but also the communities, the livelihood of the residents, their culture and community life. Women and children are the worst affected. A number of children have died out in the winter, which has been exceptionally severe this year, their health, nutrition, security and sense of security, are lost for ever. Their education lies disturbed, their books lie crushed under the might of the bull- dozers sent by the State to turn its citizens into refugees in their own lands. Their parents take turns sitting guard ˆ night and day, over their limited belongings, instead of going to work.

The people thus bull dozed, live in slums for different reasons. Some are not even slums but „gaothans‰. Their families have lived there since four generations, some since 40 years, the trees they have planted are big and bear fruits which they offer the visitors, despite the dire straits they are in themselves. Originally, Bombay was a village of fisher ˆ folk, yet a place like Moragaon, a fisher folk's village, was bull- dozed and set fire to, destroying documentation and spreading terror.

Rafiq Nagar was bull ˆ dozed in December and about 1000 families had nowhere to go, so they have been sleeping amidst the graves in a cemetery. The residents of Rafiq Nagar had painfully filled in a " Nala" by their own hard labour and made land for their houses. Since yesterday, the original slum area is being converted into a dumping ground for garbage. When people peacefully protested, they were „lathi charged‰, arrested and locked up!! Even observers have been arrested.The police are ensuring that the "dirty slum dweller" is replaced permanently by Mumbai's " clean garbage ".

The story continues with very limited variations and 3 lakh Indian citizens are made homeless by a State which prefers to cater to the greed of a handful of rich at the expense and total destruction of the majority of the Indian population.

After coming into power on promises of legalising hutments built upto the year 2000, the Maharashtra government does not feel at all obliged to keep its promise. Infact the Municipal authorities have even asked that the people whose houses are demolished should be removed from the electoral rolls ! What a wonderful way of making sure that no backlash hurts the rulers even in the next elections !!!!!

Even at this very moment, more of the homeless and their sympathisers, including Medha Patkar, Raju Bhise,Prakash Reddy, Leena Joshi, Vijaya Chauhan, Kalpana Gowde from various peoples' movements and NGO's are being arrested.

* We demand that all further demolitions must stop immediately.
* All arrested persons should be released immediately.
* Remove all the security guards - paid for by the builders lobby , from the demolished areas.
* Compensate those whose homes are illegally demolished.
* Stop displacing people in the villages and destroying their resource bases if you do not want slums in the cities.
* Actively provide facilities in the villages, including employment - in the hinterlands.
* In your hurry to turn Mumbai into Shanghai, please do not make it into another Tianamen Square, Peking !!

It is the concept of „human dignity‰ that distinguishes humanity from the animal world. The Supreme Court of India has recognized that the Right to Life includes the Right to Food and Clothing, Right to Shelter and the Right to Livelihood. Deprivation of a single one of these leads to a loss of dignity, fundamental freedoms as also equality.

Kindly take immediate action and ensure that such attrocities never recur in our fair land.