Staff Reporter: Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has recently issued a notice to 130 families of the Telugu community to vacate the colony in Dhalpur outfall of Jatrabari in the capital. People of the Telugu community held a press conference at the National Press Club on Thursday (February 16) to protest this notice.
At the press conference addressed to DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Tapas, Telugu community woman Ramnamma said crying, ‘We have not slept, we have not eaten for a week. What sin did we do, mayor? What crime have we committed? Is it our fault to be born on this earth?’
Ramnamma said, ‘Where we are living now, blood would flow if we stepped there. This soil is now hard. And it has caught the eye of the administration. Where do we go? If you want to take this place, kill all our Telugus with poison. Then took place.
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Parishad, Nijra Kari, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), BLAST, Bangladesh Environmental Law Society (BELA), Law and Arbitration organized the press conference titled ‘Payatara protest against eviction without resettlement of 130 landless families of Outfall Telugu Colony’. Center, Human Rights Culture Foundation, ALRD, and victim communities.
Seven demands emerged from the press conference. These include stopping evictions without resettlement, providing legal documents for permanent resettlement, protecting of their places of worship, job guarantees, non-eviction if cleaners are not employed, and provision of livable housing for them.
The city corporation ordered them to vacate the area within two days on February 9. Then the local councilor and the officer in charge of the police station gave the same order. When this word spread, the panic of eviction spread throughout the colony.
It was informed in the press conference that they had been living in the city corporation and municipal areas since the British and Pakistan eras for cleaning the city. In 1982, they were brought from Tikatuli to Huzurbari area of Sayedabad through an NGO. Later, the Huzurbari site was written off by the Ershad government, and they were officially brought to Dhalpur in 1990, which later came to be known as Mathor Colony.
In a written statement at the press conference, ALRD Manager (Program) Rafiq Ahmed said that there is a directive of the High Court in the slum eviction case, no slum or colony can be eviction without rehabilitation. Because, in the constitution, the right to housing the people is included in the principles of governance of the state. Eviction of cleaners living here legally would be a gross violation of human rights.
Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Parishad, said, ‘Mayor Tapas is a lawyer in his professional life. It seems surprising that despite being a lawyer, he could ignore all the precedents of the High Court and the Supreme Court and talk about their eviction without any notice, without any arrangement for rehabilitation. While in power, they say, we are not the master of the people, but the servant. But we didn’t expect from Fazle Noor Tapas how a servant can assume the role of a master when he comes to power.
Rana Dasgupta also said, ‘The demands raised from today’s press conference should be taken into logical consideration by the Dhaka South City Corporation, the mayor, and the higher authorities of the government. Otherwise, we will assume that the government and administration cannot be friends of the people.
Kajal Debnath, a member of the Presidium of the Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Parishad, said that there are dumping stations in 14 places in Dhaka city. The place where Telugus were allowed to stay was also a dumping station. Dead cows, goats, sacrificial skins, and garbage are thrown there. Now that the place is habitable, it has caught the eye of the city corporation.
ALRD executive director Shamsul Huda said that injustice and injustice will not be allowed to happen to the Telugu community. He said, “They were in another place. They went to the outfall area at the will of the government. Time and again they have been transferred from one place to another. Do they hand toys? Are they not citizens of this country? You will transfer them here and there whenever you want, take away the shelter, and their security, dignity, and respect will be lost, this cannot happen.
Professor Robayet Ferdous of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of Dhaka University, Ferozul Islam, Head of Program of Bela, Tajul Islam of Blast, Nahid Shams, lawyer of Human Rights Culture Foundation, etc. spoke at the press conference.