I have been to the EWS site for the last four days. I wasn’t there when Kaveri, Gee and 27 other women were arrested but I went back with some medical supplies in case I could help. Now, the homes don’t exist. The activists and women are in prison and all that lies there at the EWS quarters is rubble.
The day before yesterday, bulldozers advanced with a single minded intent to raze the EWS homes to the ground. The screaming women and activists were able to stall it for a few hours.
Yesterday morning, there was a whole bunch of protestors, screaming and with placards. Passersby stopped to read and take note. Three JCB bulldozers came towards the site but they had to turn back. The people were in control – not the JCB or the cops. By afternoon, people hadn’t eaten. Everyone was tired and hungry. Most of the activists had gone back. None of the placards were visible.
Suddenly the cops started getting aggressive. Two more bus-loads of them arrived. They started by being abusive to the crowd, elbowing people and using demeaning and insulting language. A bunch of cops hit two very drunk men on their heads and back and literally dragged/pushed them out on the streets. There was a sense of fear created in the crowd. Then about thirty men with iron rods and hammers came in. They were not in uniform and looked like they had been picked from another slum. When questioned they said they had been paid by the BBMP to do the demolitions. They came in and started hanging around the houses. They did not look different from the rest of the crowd.
Then three JCB bulldozers rolled in and were just parked for about half an hour. Then the police began pushing people around. They used vans and police jeeps to cordon off people and at different locations the men with the rods began demolishing houses. Anyone who raised a voice was pushed into the waiting police vans. Women were wailing as their things were thrown out. Men were trying to collect the tin sheets to sell. Women were crying everywhere – angry, desperate women. The more angry ones were pushed around by the cops and abused and dragged away. Even as people were trying to remove their miserable possessions, ten to twelve men were in each house banging away at the tin sheets and breaking them down.
This went on from house to house to house to house with the cops and their lathis all around, ready to beat any offender. Many of the cops were laughing and joking. Many of them constantly taunted and insulted the people.
I set up a medical camp with some short supplies but hardly anyone came to me. A thought came into my head and stuck there – “Health is of no consequence without its social determinants – what health can you offer to someone who has neither food nor water nor toilets nor a roof over their heads?” Two children whose mothers had been arrested were brought to me for crying all night long and not having eaten. Two women said they felt giddy because they hadn’t eaten. One of them told me that she struggles all day to sell juice but now she doesn’t have a place to come and sleep at night.
Some one else said that they worked at NGV but the people of NGV had given a written complaint that these EWS slums were bad for the aesthetics of Koramangala.
Two children had diarrhea. Their mothers had not been able to cook for them the last two days and they had no water to drink except what somebody gave them.