It was a familiar scene. A hundred policemen crowded the narrow corridor that is the entry to our homes. The Collector’s men raised their mobile loudspeakers and read out a ‘33/38’ eviction notice, asking us to co-operate in their efforts to break their houses. It’s besides the point that in no language, legal or otherwise, does ‘eviction’ mean ‘demolition’. It’s also besides the point that the so-called notice was dated from more 90 days earlier, making it redundant as a legal order. Nor does it matter, perhaps, that the High Court has ruled in our favour in a (criminal) case of fraud and forgery against Shivalik builders – the very builders that the police and collector’s office came to serve today. We have seen these games played before. We have seen repeatedly that the law is lawless in our crumbling corridors.
We have resolved to fight with legal, honest means. We file RTI’s, we file cases in the courts, we court arrest, cling to our houses when they come to break them. We have appealed to the CM, to the Opposition, to the Media, to the public at large- come, support and help us beat this corruption. But here we are again, crammed into the corridor, shoulder to shoulder, trying to engage this legal machine in a dialogue of morality and humanity. And this is what bothers us today – where do we go from here?
Today, after over a year of fighting for our rights, the bulldozers entered our compound. Its not enough for them to simply break our houses, they must now raze them to the ground. 12 people got arrested for trying to defend their houses. One woman, Sunita Gurav, braved a grievous head injury in a lathi-charge. Today, 20 more homes are rubble. Tomorrow on the 20th, they plan to take 52 more.
Today, our lives are tied up in jute bags, littered under the open sky. We stay hungry all day, and there are whispers. Who is this Anna Hazare, who fights against corruption? Who are these people, who light candles and go hungry for him? Perhaps they will hear of us, and come stand with us. Perhaps then, we will know where to go from here.