MUMBAI: More than 110 members of a denotified nomadic tribe in Mankhurd’s Agarwadi were evicted from their homes without any warning on Thursday, despite the State Human Rights Commission sending the civic body a suo motu notice on violations made during a previous eviction drive, and calling them in for a hearing next month.
Some of the residents were allegedly assaulted, even as others saw their belongings being burnt. In the midst of the commotion, 10-12 students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), who were protesting against the demolitions, were also allegedly beaten up. The institution has now stepped in and made arrangements for the tribals on their campus till alternative accommodation can be found for them.
The l ocals belong to t he Masanjogi tribe and are daily wage earners.
“We were given no notice. Suddenly, nearly 300 cops and 150 civic officials descended upon us and asked us to leave,” said Ramchandar Shirwati, the leader of the community.
While most of the belongings were confiscated, some were set on fire. “We had a few clothes hanging on the fence along with a few loose valuables, which were burnt before our eyes,” said 35-yearold Muglaiyya Kumar. Kumar’s wife, Tulja amma, is five months pregnant. Now, without a roof over their heads, the family is worried about her health and of her child, whose only school uniform was also destroyed.
Chandra M said he lost all his belongings. “I have nothing left except the pair of clothes I am wearing; not even my ration card. I asked them to just let me collect my valuables, but they shoved me away.”
Dr S Parsuraman, director, TISS, decried the drive, saying, “We have become a nation without any compassion for the poor and the defenceless. TISS wants to help them, but we don’t have the capacity to beyond a few days. I hope the state comes forward extends help to these people.”
However, Kiran Dighaonkar, the local ward officer, said, “We were not aware of any notice from the human rights commission. We were not mandated to give them any notice as they were living on the road, not in structures.”