Ahmedabad police allegedly used brute force to break up an assembly of migrant workers demanding decent housing. Hundreds of workers had gathered before the district collector’s office, Ahmedabad, to submit a memorandum to the district collector demanding that their settlement be enumerated as slums and basic services like light and drinking water be provided.
The workers had sought permission for a rally that was denied late at night. Subsequently they decided to assemble peacefully in a corner on the sidewalk near the district collector’s office and give memorandum to the district collector. However, the police broke up the assembly using batons.
Twenty-two people, including the president of the Union Hirabhai and secretary Minaben and leaders of the Struggle Committee, were detained. All of them were released in late afternoon and allowed to submit a memorandum to the district collector.
Those detained include union activists Dinesh Parmar, Ashok Parmar, and Shanti Lal Meena. During the baton charge, a woman leader, Magiben, was injured. She had to be hospitalized by calling an ambulance. Rest of the assembly was forced to disperse
The workers are residents of some 40 settlements of Ahmedabad, inhabited by seasonal and permanent migrants to the city, said Mina Jadhav of the Majuar Adhikar Manch, which had organised the protest. The settlements are not recognized by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and bulldozed frequently without any resettlement. Recently, people staying put at Fatewadi near Juhapura were evicted.
The workers have been raising their, demands for last ten year, said Jadhav. The demands include government undertake a survey of unrecognized settlements where they are living; basic public services like sanitation, drinking water, paved roads, and electricity be immediately provided to all the settlements; and no eviction should be carried out without due process of proper rehabilitation.
The demonstrators also demanded revision of the Gujarat Slum Rehabilitation Policy, which promotes public private partnership; shelter for persons counted as homeless in 2018 by the government; implementation of the recently announced Affordable Rental Housing Scheme for migrant workers; and shelters for urban homeless designed to provide accommodation to families who come from outside Ahmedabad.