By Krishna Jha
The 75th year of India’s independence, which the government called ‘Amrith Kaal’, is marked by the roar of bulldozers. It has become an everyday affair in the national capital, where authorities come with bulldozers to the Delhi neighborhood where the poor live in large numbers. Jahangirpuri, Govindpuri, Shaheenbagh, Sarojini Nagar- so the list grows. It shows the class character of the RSS – BJP government and its approach to the concerns of the poor. Shelter is a fundamental right of every human being who lives on this earth. For the BJP, this is easily forgettable if the victims are poor or Muslim. This is a scandalous violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court of India has held that the right to life of human beings is not limited to mere animal existence and extends to the right to live in human dignity, including shelter, clothing and nutrition. The Court also interpreted the right as a fundamental right guaranteed by Articles 19(1)(e) and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that everyone has the right to a satisfactory standard of living, together with the enjoyment of clothing, food and medical care. Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) recognizes the right to adequate housing for all, with a focus on the continuous improvement of living conditions. Article 43 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families discusses the right of access to housing for migrant workers and their families.
Mass migration to megacities is nothing new. It is a global phenomenon with its own reasons and consequences. The important cause is the crisis that befell the agricultural sector, seriously affecting the rural economy. People in large numbers are forced to migrate to cities in search of work, food and shelter. Thus, not only new neighborhoods emerged on the outskirts of all major cities. Favelas have also sprung up where the most oppressed among them are forced to live. Yours is a bitter struggle for survival. These human beings face all kinds of challenges, but they have become an essential part of urban life and Indian reality. Statistics with the government itself say that 6.5 million people live in about 108,000 favelas (2011 Census data). It is common knowledge that the real numbers are way above the official data.
With the passage of time, these migrated lots become an unavoidable necessity for the smooth flow of even affluent urban life. They do all kinds of manual work for the families of the rich and well-to-do. They are drivers, dhobis, salesmen, domestic workers, cleaners and plumbers, security guards, gardeners, rag pickers, etc. for urban life. No city can even imagine its existence without the work of these layers of people who make up the bulk of our workforce. On certain special occasions, rulers praise your service using empty adjectives. During elections, great leaders visit them as vote seekers and the next day they forget about them. It is to their abodes that excavators are now sent.
BJP officials and leaders talk about unauthorized construction. It is with this argument that they try to justify their bulldozer policy. It is well known to them that illegal construction is taking place on a large scale in areas where the urban rich are concentrated. Your malls, stores, offices, homes, theaters, etc. are built or expanded as and when they want. Can the government say that all these big constructions are proceeding according to the rules and regulations? Bulldozer politics is yet another example of the double standards followed by the ruling class.
There are different criteria for your law when it is applicable to the rich and the poor. Even dealing with so-called illegal constructions, the Supreme Court specified conditions such as notice and rehabilitation. In the case of large-scale evictions, rehabilitation measures are unavoidable. For BJP rulers, all concerns about human rights and democratic norms are insignificant. They approach the issue with political vengeance. Community intolerance also guides them. They attract faith and God in their demolition frenzy. While the bulldozer policy affects the lives and livelihoods of the poor, regardless of their religion, the RSS-BJP is eager to paint it as a Hindu-Muslim issue.
Aiming at communal violence, your storm troopers are spreading rumors and fabricated stories. The ruling party that has failed in all walks of life is desperately trying to divide the people to hide its crime in the nation. Elections in 2024 are your goal. For this they intend to mobilize religious extremists as their vanguard. An analysis of recent demolitions signifies this fact. The government must give up its policy of communal revenge against the poor and minorities. They should pay attention to the reference made by the Federal Supreme Court asking the central government in a similar case “to act with humanity, as is expected of a “model government”, not taking any coercive action against the occupants until their request for rehabilitation is decided. ”. (IPA Service)
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