By Krishna Jha
The 75th year of Indian independence, referred to as ‘Amrith Kaal’ by the government, is marked by the growl of bulldozers. It has become a daily affair in the national capital as authorities bulldoze their way into the Delhi neighborhood where the poor live in large numbers. Jahangirpuri, Govindpuri, Shaheenbagh, Sarojini Nagar – so the list grows. It shows the class nature 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, that’s easy to forget if the victims are poor or Muslim. This is an outrageous violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court of India has ruled that the right to life of people is not limited to the mere existence of animals, but extends to the right to live with human dignity, including shelter, clothing and food. The Court has also interpreted the right to be a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 19(1)(e) and 21 of the Constitution of India. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that every individual has the right to a satisfactory standard of living, in addition to 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 continuous improvement of living conditions. Article 43 of the International Covenant 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 the megacities is nothing new. It is a global phenomenon with its own reasons and consequences. The main cause is the crisis that has engulfed the agricultural sector and severely affected the rural economy. People in large numbers are forced to migrate to cities in search of work, food and shelter. This not only created new neighborhoods on the outskirts of every major city. Slums have also sprung up where the most oppressed among them have to live. They fight a bitter struggle for survival. Those people face all kinds of challenges, yet they have become an essential part of city life and Indian reality. The government statistics themselves say that there are 6.5 million people living in about 108.00 slums (2011 Census data). Everyone knows that the actual numbers are much higher than the official data.
In the course of time, these migrated lots become inevitable necessities for the smooth flow of prosperous city life even. They do all kinds of menial labor for the households of the rich and well-to-do. They are the drivers, dhobis, salesmen, domestic workers, cleaners and plumbers, guards, gardeners, rag pickers, etc. for city life. No city can imagine existence without the labor of these groups of people who make up a large part of our workforce. On certain special occasions, the rulers praise their service with hollow adjectives. During the elections, great leaders visit them as vote seekers and the next day they forget about them. The bulldozers are now being sent to their homes.
The authorities and BJP leaders are talking about unauthorized constructions. With this argument they try to justify their bulldozer policy. They are aware that large-scale illegal constructions are taking place in those areas where the urban rich are concentrated. Their malls, shops, offices, homes, theaters, etc. are built or expanded as and when they want it. Can the government say that all these big constructions are taking place according to the rules and regulations? Bulldozer politics is yet another example of the double standards followed by the ruling class.
There are different standards of their law when it applies to rich and poor. Even when dealing with the so-called illegal structures, the Supreme Court has specified conditions such as proper notice and rehabilitation. Rehabilitation measures are unavoidable in the event of large-scale evictions. For the rulers of the BJP, all concerns about human rights and democratic standards are insignificant. They approach the issue with political vendetta. Common bigotry also guides them. They pull in faith and God in their demolition frenzy. Even though bulldozer politics affects the lives and livelihoods of the poor, regardless of their religion, RSS-BJP is only too happy to portray it as a Hindu-Muslim issue.
In view of communal violence, their storm troopers spread rumors and made up stories. The ruling party that has failed in all walks of life is desperately trying to divide the people to hide their crime against the nation. Elections in 2024 is their goal. To that end, they want to mobilize religious extremists as their vanguard. An analysis of the recent vandalism points to this fact. The government must abandon its community-laden vendetta against the poor and minorities. They must heed the Supreme Court’s reference in a similar case requesting the central government to “act humanely, as expected from a “model government”, by not taking coercive action against residents until their plea for rehabilitation is decided ”. (IPA service)
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