The people of Mandala – Mankhurd are bravely leading the struggle of India’s homeless, marginalized and oppressed for the fifth continuous day as they demand what is rightfully theirs. While at the same time there is no response from the government to the demands, instead the Satyagrahis facing harassment by police.
In 2004, as part of a massive demolition drive where an estimated 85,000 homes were obliterated in Mumbai, Mandala too had its share of bulldozers. In 2005 the Court had allowed Mandala residents to build their homes which were again demolished. After almost a decade, an estimated 3000 people have occupied 55 hectares of prime land in Mandala – Mankhurd to claim back what was taken away from them unlawfully – their homes. The unprecedented daring move of the people has met with immense success and support from all quarters of the society. The Government is yet to recognize demands of the Satyagraha.
Meanwhile, the crowds at the occupation have been busy mapping out plots to build their homes. Basic amenities like toilets are being planned out. From the makeshift tents they are living in now, the community has already announced a school to be built. In a shared exuberance, many hawkers and vendors lined up the action-area offering snacks and drinks. Unexpectedly, around evening, police raided the premises and tried to drive out the hawkers and vendors but met with resistance from the community and backed out, yesterday. In many ways the Mandala Satyagraha is exposing the ill-found principles on which modern cities are built. Poor street-sellers always end up bearing the brunt of police excesses. In this time of a historic resistance we pledge to support every marginalized being until the foundation of an equitable society is laid.
Meanwhile, volunteers are busy trying to dig out copies of official reports regarding the implementation of the Pilot Project of Rajeev Awaas Yojana as promised by the administration earlier but is now being shelved. As informed by the Asst. Commissioner of M-east Ward Mr. Digavnkar, the fund allocated for conducting socio-economic survey of M (East) Ward has been stalled after receiving directions from the state government. He also informed that the policy was going to revived and be made on the basis of PPP model. But this PPP model, we believe, will only benefit the builders and go against the urban poor.
A delegation of Satyagrahi, yesterday, met the Asst. Commissioner of M-east Ward with the demands of providing regular water supply and making arrangement for toilets at the Satyagraha site, which is a large open space. The water supply demand was accepted and the demand for toilets would be looked into later after consulting the other department. The absence of toilets makes it very difficult for the large number of women Satyagrahis.
We request citizens to come forward and support this historic struggle by all means so that injustice meted out to slum-dwellers come to an end and the city sees a more balanced approach to residential planning.