'Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan' activists released

'Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan' activists released

* Arrested slum dwellers and activists released by the Metropolitan Magistrate, Bandra on signing of personnel bond in the false case against 200 andolankaries.

* Thousands of activist-slum-dwellers assemble outside the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate to seek the release of their jailed colleagues.

* Police under the influence of Builder nexus, files charge sheet within less than 12 hours of arrest under false charges of beating the police and unlawful assembly and rioting.

The Metropolitan Magistrate, Bandra (Mumbai, India) on 26 March 2009 ordered the release of 200 jailed activist-slum dwellers who were arrested on 25 March 2009 outside the office of Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) where hundreds of them had assembled to have a dialogue on the issues related to rampant corruption and malpractices being engaged in by the corrupt nexus of builders-officials-politicians. The Magistrate ordered the release on the signing of the personal bond by those arrested as more than 2000 people awaited the release outside the Court since morning. The activists-slumdwellers were represented in the Court by Advocate Shakeel Ahmed, Advocate Parvinder Singh, Advocate Raman, Advocate Manisha Tulpule, Advocate Sheikh and Raj Awasthi.

The Kherwadi Police Station had filed the first-information-report (FIR) as well the Charge sheet the same day, falsely alleging that the protestors had attacked the police personnel, while it was other way round as innocent men-women were beaten up resulting in fracture to one women and many others injured. False case under IPC sections 241, 143, 145, 148, 332, 253, 135 was registered. The case is to come up for hearing on 9 April 2009.

Before the arrest, a delegation of slum dwellers-activists met the members of High Power Committee including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) -SRA Shri SS Jhende, Housing Secretary Shri S Kunte, Vice President-MHADA Shri Chaterjee. The delegation made them aware of the gross irregularities that were being followed in the implementation of the SRA, with the result being that instead of housing slum dwellers it was dis-housing them and at the same time Builders were reaping huge profits with vast tracks of land in Mumbai being transferred to them.

Today, while around 60 lakh people were forced to stay in in-human conditions of slums, thousands of square meters of land has been transferred to the builders in the guise of rehabilitating slum dwellers under the aegis of SRA. Latest in the line is the Shivalik Ventures project at Golibar, Bandra-Santa Cruz, where though more than 12,000 families are residing but according to the proposal of the builder, financially supported by notorious Lehman Brothers; only 3500 families are to be rehabilitated and in lieu around 100 acres of land to be transferred to the builder for free.

Later in the evening, Medha Patkar and other activists addressing thousands of slum dwellers outside the Court, lambasted the Authorities and the police administration that was working out - rightly to further the interests of the Builders - corporates and violating the rights of the poor. A resolve was taken to further the struggle for claiming the right to the city and just development.

Sumit Wajale, Hyder Imam, Nasrin Bano, Mangesh Sonawane, Simpreet Singh, Mohan Chavan, Suresh Banjan, Madhuri V, Amit Maru, Medha Patkar