At least 45 families from three slums on the banks of the Musi River were left homeless after an “illegal” eviction by authorities and were housed in a community shelter with no toilets.
“With so many men around, how can I change my clothes? I’m even ashamed to talk about it out loud,” says an agitated N Nagamani, a resident of Hanumantha Huts, the slum on the banks of the Musi River in Moosarambagh. The 35-year-old belongs to about 45 families, who are currently seeking refuge in the overcrowded community hall, located next to the slum, with their belongings as the government has not yet provided them with a house. The current accommodation has only one makeshift bathroom and no sanitation facilities, forcing residents to defecate in the open air.
“For seven days, we have been deprived of any form of privacy. We live like animals. Every time I take a bath, I tell the men and children to get out until I change. How many times should I do this? I have daughters, I fear for their safety,” Nagamani said. There are around 100 people, including women and children, in the shelter.
Last week on Friday, residents of Laxmaiah Huts, Chandraiah Huts and Hanumantha Huts – all slums in Moosarambagh – were razed to the ground by authorities. Most of these families belong to Dalit, backward and Muslim communities. These slums previously housed nearly 200 families. While the government has provided 205 families (including 45 houses to residents of other Moosarambagh settlements) with houses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission at Munganoor in Hayathnagar, 45 families are yet to be rehabilitated. Another 45 families who left the colony could not be identified. With each passing day, their hopes dwindle and they are forced to vent their anger on the authorities. Police have been deployed near the shelter to prevent any violence or untoward incidents.
Chandramma with her belongings in the government-provided shelter
Activists claim the demolition of slums is “illegal” because the tax authorities have not issued any eviction notices in advance. The district administration, however, denies these allegations.
For nearly 30 years, slum dwellers lived there without any basic amenities. Drinking water and electricity were the only facilities they could enjoy. “We were paying electricity bills, so we never imagined we would be evicted in such an inhuman way,” says Shaheeda, a resident of Laxmaiah Huts, who was recently assaulted by police. Her relative, P Devender, 70, had died in the government-provided shelter on Tuesday. Instead of keeping the body inside the shelter, the family placed the body near their former residence, which is now open ground, for mourning. Police who saw this as a sign of protest forcibly removed the body in a van and assaulted family members who tried to resist.
“Men and women have been beaten by the police. They didn’t even spare the children. We ran all over the place,” says Shaheeda. A five-month-old woman was also not spared. She suffers from a broken arm. Malakpet police justified the action saying residents were trying to stir up trouble with a false claim that the deceased died due to the poor conditions at the shelter, while the 70-year-old died of causes natural.
Despite the lack of privacy and basic amenities, homeless residents vow to leave the shelter only after the government provides them with a home.
Since the eviction, most of the families surviving on odd jobs have not gone to work. “Our lives were turned upside down in minutes. We don’t have a home; nor a future. All of our stuff is out in the open. How can we just move on? asks Chandramma, a slum dweller.
Residents expelled against the MRO
Activist Syed Bilal of the Human Rights Forum, who has been involved in the fight to secure housing for slum dwellers, said: “The inhabitants were identified in the socio-economic survey by the authorities, but only 205 inhabitants received pattas. An injustice has been done to the other 45 families. The others also should receive a house. They are entitled to it. »
Some of these residents were previously housed in Munganoor. However, as many worked in the neighborhood as domestic helpers, they had moved to the slum. “Our children studied here, and we also work here. How could we just leave everything and go somewhere else in the middle of the jungle? “recalls a resident.
Speaking to TNM, Mandal Revenue Officer Prasad, who had visited the shelter to address the concerns of evicted residents on March 11, said, “Many families are not genuine (not real slum dwellers), so how can we offer everyone accommodation? ”
The MRO reportedly issued an ultimatum to vacate the shelter by Monday.