-Rajesh Tyagi/ 15 September, 2009
The residential colonies, Rahul Vihar and Buddha Vihar, located on the bank of the Hindon River, near the National Highway 24 in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, suddenly emerged in media focus, when thousands of protesting residents of the two colonies, had blocked the NH-24 for over six hours on 5th September, raising issue against the threatened demolition of the colonies, by the state authorities.
The residents, a large proportion of whom are dalits and Muslims, own the small houses in the two colonies, with documents of title, and few tenants also inducted in some houses. Most of them possess ration cards, electoral identity cards and electricity connections in their name. They are either self-employed workers or have petty jobs in factories and the industrial areas in Ghaziabad and Noida. The area has several schools, temples, mosques, mobile tower and a mixing plant of EPSCO cement Company. It falls under the jurisdiction of Noida Sector-58 and Vijay Nagar police stations.
The blockade on 5th September, had turned violent after the local police, charged the protesting mob with teargas and batons. The resisting mob, put several police and other vehicles on fire and counter attacked the police with brickbats etc. This clash between the police and protesting residents of the tow colonies resulted in injuries to many protestors, while few policemen also sustained injuries.
The police however, in a pre-mediated manner to take revenge upon the residents as a whole, has unleashed a virtual reign of terror, indiscriminately, upon the residents of the area. A first Information Report has been lodged with 49 persons named and 900 more unnamed, under sections 146, 147, 148, 149 (rioting), 307 (attempt to murder), 323, 336, 427 and 436 of the Indian Penal Code. Even not satisfied with this, SSP Akhil Kumar, has been quoted by media saying that the arrested persons would be booked under the drastic law, the National Security Act. The whole incident, however, has hardly anything to do with the issue of National Security.
During the last 10 days, the police has continued to raid the colonies at all hours of the day and night, in derogation of all law and legal procedures. The calculated modus operandi of the police is to enter the houses of people without reason or warning, especially in the wee hours of night and beat up men and women indiscriminately. In many cases, the police locked the houses from outside, entered the houses through the roof and then beat up the residents, to prevent them from escape.
53 people were arrested in police raids conducted on 8th September alone, beginning at 4:00 a.m. 14 people were arrested during police raids on 10th September. Till now, 67 people have been arrested and sent to Dasna jail in Ghaziabad. Each person has been arrested under at least 19 different offences, thus diminishing the prospects of release on bail.
Majority of the arrestees, are poor dalits and Muslims, who are employed as watchmen, hawkers, tailors and sweepers. Wives and sisters of those who have been arrested have reported that the arrestees are being beaten badly and meted out inhuman treatment, inside the jail.
While many of the residents have fled the colonies in face of the terror being spread by the police, others live in hiding in the vicinity under continuous fear of the police. So many houses and shops can be found locked in these colonies, under fear of frequent raids. While schools have been closed in the colonies, many households have stopped cooking meals in their homes. With normal routine of the life in the two colonies disrupted, the residents, majority of whom are wage workers in Noida and Ghaziabad, have been unable to go to the work.
Unable to find more prey in their houses, the police is beating the people, even by dragging them out of the vehicles, in the area.
Hard evidence has erupted to show that many of those arrested by the police, were not even present at NH-24 during the incident of 5th September. Sonu Chaudhary, a class 10th student has been arrested and sent to Dasna jail as well. The arrests are random, and are being made apparently out of the spirit of revenge. The policy of imposing collective punishment upon the whole community, indiscriminately, is being practised by the police of Mayawati.
It has transpired that on 3rd September, the concerned SDM, ADM (City) and Irrigation Department officials visited the site for a survey of the Hindon River. On 4th September, the Irrigation Department officials marked the 400 mts. on either side of the River as the catchment area. The officials arrived with bulldozers the next day in Chijarsi, which is on the one side of the River in Noida. The news that the colonies on both sides of the river, would be demolished, spread rapidly, creating a sudden panic among the people, who gathered to block the National Highway in protest against the impending action of the State, as a knee-jerk reaction.
The sale of the land on the banks of the Hindon river, upon which the two colonies had come up gradually over a period of more than a decade, had begun around 12-14 years ago, when Ghaziabad was emerging as a satellite town of Delhi. The authorities, deliberately kept their eyes shut, when the land was being openly sold by the land mafia, closely linked to the high-ups, to the un-expecting poor people, mostly migrants from U.P. and Bihar, at very high rates, after grabbing the holdings of the local farmers at throw away prices. As the area was low lying, the land mafia dumped mountains of fly ash on the banks of the Hindon River, covered it with soil and then sold this ‘land’ to un-expecting poor people. Over the past 12 years, many such colonies have developed along a 7 km long stretch on both sides of the Hindon River in Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddha Nagar districts of Uttar Pradesh.
It is important to note that this could not have happened without the knowledge, rather active connivance of the officials of Irrigation Department of the U.P. government, which is responsible for managing the catchment area, the local administration and the police.
The residential colonies have not come up overnight. This has continued to happen right under the nose of the authorities. Only after the profiteers slipped out of the scene with booty, the authorities suddenly woke up to claim that the land was part of river catchment and colonies are illegal.
Uttar Pradesh is the State, where the government of Bahujan Samaj Party, headed by Mayawati, is in power, with full majority. This party claims itself to be saviour of Dalits, minorities and other weaker sections of society. Yet the balance sheet shows that this government has proved to be no better than other parties of bourgeois. The party of dalit bourgeois headed by Mayawati, presents a mirror image of other bourgeois parties, when set in action. Dalits and minority communities cannot expect something better, from the bourgeois of their own. Dalit bourgeois is part of the whole class of the bourgeois and seeks power to maintain the rule of the rich and serve them, instead of doing anything for the vast majority of dalits and minorities, which lives in poverty and deprivation of rights. While, Mayawati, is spending hundreds of crores on erecting her statues, all over the state, in flagrant violation of all laws and propriety, poor dalits and minorities, are being evicted en-masse from their meagre abodes.
The false hopes of dalits and weaker sections, in the leadership of their own bourgeois, goes only to the advantage of the bourgeois, as a whole. The soon the illusions are shattered, the better! It will help the mass of the working people to recognise the real faces of these false leaders and false preachers of dalit unity; to fight against them by uniting with their own class, the class of the oppressed and exploited.
Working people cannot successfully fight the excesses and repression of the bourgeois and its state, making hell of their life, in fragments, i.e. the local and limited struggles isolated from each other. To achieve the better living conditions, which today remain the exclusive privilege of the exploiters, they have to rise as a ‘class for itself’ and wage revolutionary struggle against their oppressors. Only the united class struggle of working people themselves, leading to seizure of power from the hands of exploiting classes, through a proletarian revolution, bringing the working class to power, can liberate all those who toil but are crushed by exploiting classes and deprived of everything- land, bread and freedom.
* This report is based upon the report of a fact finding team of 'Perspectives'.