Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ulhasnagar is no Narmada

Just could not stop comparing the Ulhasnagar and Delhi demolitions with the Narmada case. What surprises me the most is that there is nobody in support of the people being displaced in Ulhasnagar and Delhi.

Medha Patkar probably is blind or hungry for grants from the West in the name of upliftment of poor, and other such things that are too tiring to repeat. Madam Medha went on strikes, fasts and morchas for the slum dwellers of Mumbai, but no such thing for the residents of Ulhasnagar.

"Kyon Jholawale saab aur madam log, Ulhasnagar vaasiyon ne kuch paap kiya hai kya, please unke rights ke liye bhi kuch karo. Bichare log kahan jayenge jab sarkari bulldozer unki buildings tod denge. "

I guess, since *some* people in Ulhasnagar make and sell duplicate goods, it paints all of them bad, right? And so the often misused logic - "A few XYZ are bad does not mean all XYZ are bad" does not apply to us.

Methinks somebody from Ulhasnagar or Delhi did a good job of selling duplicate scotch and marlboro lights to the jholawala brigade and hence in retaliation, they are not going to be bothered.

BTW, isnt it ironical, that jholawalas try to deny the aam janata like us, the benefits of scotch and marlboro that they clamour for, citing leftist communist propaganda. So most of them, mostly arts grads, know whats good for the janata. Arent these jholawala brigade guys very similar to the extreme right wing moral police like the Shiv Sena. Oh yeah, and if its good for the minorities or so called lower castes, it is good for everyone, else its bad for everyone.

I wonder where are our aamir khans and medha patkars when thousands are losing their homes in Ulhasnagar and many are losing their livelihood in Delhi. In a way, Ulhasnagar demolitions are very similar to the Narmada dam case. People are being uprooted and have to leave their homes. Similar to the Narmada dam case, the people have been living there for quite some time legally. They pay their taxes and the electricity and water charges.

Where is Medha Patkar now. Medha Patkar, Shabana, Priya Dutt and some Dilip D'Souza, etc (the usual self proclaimed liberal intelligentsia jholawala brigade) cry themselves hoarse for the plight of the poor slum dwellers who illegally occupy land and have been living there for much less time than the Ulhasnagar and Delhi residents. Doesnt it smack of double standards and hypocrisy. If slum dwellers are allowed to stay on their land, and there is a case for Narmada dam villagers to live where they are living, whats wrong with legal residents of a city??

Is it that those Ulhasnagar and Delhi residents are rich and therefore liable to be uprooted. It seems that the fact that people make money, pay ridiculous amounts taxes and their utilities bills, means they have less rights than downright encroachers who also contribute to crime in the cities. It is this gross injustice , the use of different measures for different sets of citizens that nobody seems to notice or protest about.

My point is that the same yardstick should be used to judge similar cases, and not on the basis that the affected are of good means or not. If you support the case of people displaced by the Narmada dam, then the same rules should apply to the Ulhasnagar and Delhi residents. Unlike slumdwellers, in general, atleast they are following the laws better.

In a way, I sincerely hope something good is going to come out of it. The displaced people will not be dependent on these fickle jholawalas. They will fight on their own, work hard again and rise again. But the trauma will never be forgotten. In fact , maybe they will actually start making and selling duplicate goods themselves.

Oh, by the way, did I say that the Constitution of our country guarantees equality of all citizens ?

Update - I had a long (and just a leetle acrimonious) discussion with a blogger who likes to call himself/herself/itself confused (felt as if talking to a s_p_a_m bot). I must say that while illegal buildings must be demolished, slums must also be demolished. And I find it hypocritical, that five year old slums, illegally built by illegal squatters, are allowed to stay, while a city with a municipal corporation, elected representatives and taxpaying citizens is suddenly found illegal after over 50 years, and demolished. But then, its all politics. Slums will come up on the very same cleared land, and they will be allowed to stay.

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