February 7, 2023: It is an irony that people who help build and run modern-day societies are often told to pack their bags and leave when they’re no longer needed. ‘Thank you for building this wonderful empire – you can now go’ – that’s the way the Big City often deals with low-pay earners who work and stay there.
It’s the same story with the people living in a huge settlement in the Tughlaqabad Fort area of southern Delhi. On February 4, 2023, when Delhi was engrossed with the build-up to the mayor’s election, dozens of distressed residents from the Tughlaqabad village area descended upon Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital and protested over an eviction order sent to them by the ASI (Archaelogical Survey of India) last month. Their fault? Encroachment.
But the same people have been residing there for years. They have valid documents, routinely pay their bills, and service the neighbouring localities as wage labourers, cleaners, construction workers, domestic help, security guards, etc. Yet, they now face the prospect of being evicted from their homes, while their houses are likely to be demolished.
Led by Nirmal Gorana, the activism group Mazdoor Awas Sangharsh Samiti is trying to stand by about 1,000 families who received the ASI’s eviction notice, providing legal support, and trying to help them get rehabilitated honourably. Empire Diaries brings you some freeze frames from the protest at Jantar Mantar.
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