Jan Ki Baat’s founder and CEO Pradip Bhandari covered the story of Kathputli colony residents’ forced eviction as a special live coverage after the residents approached Jan Ki baat and took out an exclusive episode titled “Zameen Pe Kya Chal Raha Hai?” questioning the violence resorted to by the police and the death of a child in the colony.
The following pertinent questions were raised by Pradip Bhandari on the short-form show:
- How will you feel when a force of police men drag you out and lash you while you were asleep in a residence you have been staying for since last 70 years.
- Kathputli Colony residents are world famous Kathputli (puppet) makers, and the question is, who is responsible in rendering them homeless?
- Who is responsible for leaving their children bereft of education, and for bringing them on the roads?
- The fundamental question is, whether eviction by force is justified?
- Whom is the system for and whom is it serving?
The DDA began the demolition drive in the colony on October 30th 2017. The pained and devastated residents (who are traditional artisans staying since decades in the colony) expressed their grief and narrated in vivid details, the violent and brutal demolition process, which according to them was non-consensual and undertaken without any warning.
Many Kathputli residents were handicapped, and reported the use of physical violence and force. Many showed their bruises, and produced the documentation of their stay.
The following are some of the excerpts from the residents’ statements as told in the live broadcast to Pradip Bhandari on Nov 2nd, 2017:
“Even if the courts’ order was to evict the residents, who gave them the authority to hit and beat us?”
“We aren’t terrorists, why are we being treated like this?”
“Look what is the condition of our kids who are lying as stray animals on the roads today”.
“Where was the media when our homes, our futures and dreams were being crushed?”
“Extreme injustice has taken place, people have been beaten up and their valuable belongings have been crushed inhumanly by bulldozers”
“Politicians talk about “Swatch Bharat”, “Beti Bachao”, where does their conscience go when women have to pee and excrete in polybags; when we cant even eat and utensils have also been destroyed, what to drink water in?”
“We don’t have access to mainstream media, healthcare and doctors, police and justice system”.
“A girl was about to get married in the colony, and now she is sitting on the road, homeless”.
“We will die here only, shoot us if you want to, this was our birthplace”.
The other side of the story going around however is that the residents were given ample notices and were provided resettlement pucca houses that they refused to accept due to various lobbies.
Whether the DDA, government or residents were authorized on their part remains to be investigated, however the overt violence by the police in the colony and mishandling of the situation is strongly condemned by Jan Ki Baat.
Find below, the first-hand picture stories sourced by the citizens:
Story by Pradip Bhandari and Akriti Bhatia