Mumbai's Jai Bhim Nagar Slum Demolition: Rajratna Ambedkar Stages Sit-In Protest, Claims Homes of Non-BJP Voters Targeted

Mass demolition at Jai Bhim Nagar slum colony sparks outrage and protests. Rajratna Ambedkar demanded action to be taken against the erring officials under the Atrocities Act. He claimed that the authorities have assured proper action within two days. However, he warned that if the promises are not fulfilled, the protests will resume with greater intensity.
Rajratna Ambedkar who sat on a sit-in protest on Tuesday, said that the regulations strictly prohibit eviction during the monsoon to prevent exacerbating the vulnerability of slum dwellers.
Rajratna Ambedkar who sat on a sit-in protest on Tuesday, said that the regulations strictly prohibit eviction during the monsoon to prevent exacerbating the vulnerability of slum dwellers.

Mumbai – In a flagrant violation of government resolutions (GR), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has demolished hundreds of homes in the Jai Bhim Nagar slum colony in Powai, as part of its anti-encroachment drive, rendering approximately 750 families homeless during the monsoon season. The demolition drive took place on June 6, exactly two days after the declaration of Lok Sabha Elections.

This move, which contravenes the government resolution prohibiting demolitions between June 1 and September 30, sparked widespread outrage and led to an indefinite strike by Rajratna Ashok Ambedkar, the national chairperson of The Buddhist Society of India and great-grandnephew of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian Constitution.

Speaking to The Mooknayak about the incident, Ambedkar condemned the demolition as a gross violation of human rights and legal norms. He highlighted that the slum's residents, predominantly Dalits from various states including Maharashtra and West Bengal, were not given prior notice before the demolition.

He emphasized that initiating such an encroachment drive requires authorization from the district collector, a step that was blatantly bypassed by the BMC.

Violation of Regulations and Human Rights

Ambedkar pointed out that the regulations strictly prohibit eviction during the monsoon to prevent exacerbating the vulnerability of slum dwellers.

"During monsoon, they cannot force anyone to evacuate their homes, and there are many government resolutions related to this regulation which have been willfully overlooked," he stated.

The demolition left residents without shelter, food, or clothing, and amidst these hardships, many have been falsely charged by the police, according to Ambedkar. Most of the families hail from various Scheduled Caste communities and have been residents for 25 to 30 years.

The timing of the demolition, just days after the Congress party's Varsha Gaekwad won the elections on June 4, has raised suspicions of political vendetta.

Rajratna Ambedkar alleged that the homes were intentionally targeted in areas where residents did not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), describing the act as "utterly obnoxious."

The demolition has had tragic consequences, including the loss of an unborn child due to the chaos, as recounted by Ambedkar. Elderly individuals and children were not spared, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

Ambedkar has demanded immediate action from the authorities, including the provision of alternative housing for those displaced, suspension of the BMC officer responsible for the demolition, and filing of FIRs against the police officials involved in the violence. He stressed that the community will not rest until justice is served.

However, in an Indian Express report,  a senior civic official said, “While the GR is valid, the demolition drive was undertaken by the BMC on the basis of court orders.” According to other civic officials, the demolition had been delayed as the Model Code of Conduct was in force.

Meanwhile, authorities claim, the land was privately owned but given for a temporary labour camp for the Hiranandani builder in 2007. As the builder did not clear the land then, several individuals approached the MSHRC to get it vacated, and previous attempts were also made to vacate. S ward officer Bhaskar Kasgikar in an HT report, refused any possibility of temporary accommodation or compensation from the BMC. The reservation of the land is for government offices. The owner will have to build those,” he said.

Protest and Government Response

Following a day-long protest at the demolition site, authorities engaged in mediation talks with Ambedkar, who outlined three primary demands:

  1. Provision of alternate housing for all affected families.

  2. Suspension of the BMC officer who ordered the demolition.

  3. Filing of FIRs against the police officials who assaulted the residents.

Ambedkar demanded action to be taken against the officials under the Atrocities Act.

He claimed that the authorities have assured proper action within two days. However, he warned that if the promises are not fulfilled, the protests will resume with greater intensity.

The demolition at Jai Bhim Nagar has brought to the forefront issues of housing rights, governmental accountability, and the protection of vulnerable communities. As the affected families await justice, the incident stands as a stark reminder of the need for adherence to legal and ethical standards in urban governance.

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