Rights bodies mulling legal recourse over Kolkata evictions

Kolkata, Aug 17 (IANS) Two human rights organisation on Monday accused the Trinamool Congress government of “apathy” towards the plight of nearly 2,000 people who were evicted in 2012 from a city slum to make way for a flyover and said they were thinking of taking legal recourse in the matter.

According to Apne Aap Women Worldwide (AAWW) and Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government had “brutally and illegally” evicted 383 families from a slum in Topsia area in 2012 to make way for a flyover.

The organisations on Monday unveiled a detailed report on the November 2012 eviction whereby many of the nearly 2,000 people went missing, or were subjected to misery and hardship, including trafficking.

There was neither any prior notice of the eviction nor did the government make any attempts to rehabilitate the 383 evicted families,” AAWW founder Ruchira Gupta told mediapersons here.

The activists claimed that of the 383 families, they were yet to know the whereabouts of 183 families.

“These families were forced to relocate and seek refuge wherever they could. Despite our best efforts, we have been able to locate only 200 families. The remaining 183 families are still untraceable,” claimed Gupta.

“While the state government did pay some families a meagre compensation of Rs.12,000, this is grossly insufficient to compensate the actual material and non-material losses suffered by the families,” Shivani Chaudhry of HLRN said.

Mumtaz Begum, one of the evicted persons, said women and children were most vulnerable to trafficking and many elderly and children among those evicted died due to lack of medical facilities.

“Many of us are forced to live near brothels. We live in constant fear of falling prey to flesh traders. Our children’s future is bleak, their education has been snatched away, elderly are dying and children are becoming destitute,” said Mumtaz.

The activists slammed the government and said they would move court if their “last plea” of rehabilitation and compensation to those evicted was not met.

“We have communicated with the state government 19 times so far but could not evoke a response. We will submit this report to the chief minister as a last resort. If the government still refuses to act, we will move the Calcutta High Court,” Gupta said.

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