Evictions In Ranchi: With Houses Bulldozed, Dalits & Adivasis Have Nowhere To Hide ( Outlook India )

The fact that they had been living there for decades does not matter to authorities when they bulldoze the homes of hundreds of Adivasis and Dalits, rendering them homeless and forcing them to live in the open

Living on the road: A family now living near Ranchi railway station Photo: Ravi Kispotta

Underneath the Ranchi overbridge that connects Doranda to the main city, near the railway tracks that carry the proverbial Lohardaga mail immortalised in Meghnath’s documentation, on a pavement, sleep two old women – Suchita Kachchap (70) and Jitni Lohra (67). Last year, until the bulldozer of the Railways razed their houses, opposite which they are currently staying in the open air, surviving the chilling cold wave, they had, what they call ‘our home’.

On December 28, when the Railways showed their might by bulldozing at least 40 houses, inhabited by almost 200 people, mostly Dalits and Adivasis, at Lohra Kocha, the mainstream media were conspicuously silent. The families who stayed there for more than 60 years were neither provided any rehabilitation nor any temporary resettlement. A few of them found rented accommodation in nearby areas or in relatives’ houses; the rest still stay there without any roof, with minimum resources, combating the unbearable cold.

Anjali Kumari, an 18-year-old domestic worker whose grandparents settled here several decades ago, tells Outlook, “Since the railway authorities bulldozed our houses, I had to look for accommodation safe enough for me and my sister. However, managing finances has become a difficult task now.” It is impossible for her to find a different accommodation in a distant place as her workplaces are located near the railway station.

Recalling the days of the earliest settlements here, Khushboo Devi, mother of one, tells Outlook, “When our mothers and grandmothers moved here, this place was a jungle. There were snakes and bushes and scorpions.” Like most of the indigenous people, they also settled after clearing the bushy area and making it inhabitable. One of the residents, in his mid 40s, on condition of anonymity asks, “If the Railways had issues, why didn’t they resist the ‘encroachment’ earlier?”

Though, in the recent past, the people in this neighbourhood have received consecutive eviction notices, they remember several promises made to them by political leaders of all the parties, including the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Talking to Outlook, social activist, Siraj Dutta, representative of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a civil society group working hard to bring in the notice of political ranks and files, says, “One must ask leaders like JMM Rajya Sabha member, Mahua Maji, BJP leader, Sanjay Seth, and Hatia MLA from BJP, Navin Jaiswal, about their stances. They were the leaders who had publicly assured them that nothing would happen.”

In a video that was shared by the Mahasabha on their social media handles, one can see BJP leader Sanjay Seth flanked by other senior leaders of the JMM, BJP and Congress, promising  the people that they would not be evicted from their houses.

This story was originally published in outlookindia.com . Read the full story here

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