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Jan 18 , Outside Town Hall, Bangalore

 “The BBMP-Maverick Holdings Pvt. Ltd. Agreement is undemocratic and unjust. It is an inhuman and shameless system  that perpetuates such gross injustice, not a democratic system.” – Debadutta Das, Retired Executive Judge, United Nations Human Rights Commission.

The indefinite strike of Ejipura EWS slum residents to demand that the government scrap the illegal agreement between BBMP and Maverick Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and get back their land entered second day today. The Ejipura EWS slum was demolished on 18th January, 2013 – exactly a year ago. Many families continue to live on the slum and many families who had found a house are now back to the street again as they are unable to cope with the rising rent, electricity, water and other living costs. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) members joined the protest today and expressed their solidarity with the EWS residents. More than twenty Dalit, Left, Student and Civil Society Organisations are taking part in the protest and supporting the demands of the EWS residents.

Shantha Mary, resident of EWS Ejipura slum who continues to live on the footpath next to the EWS site said, “What kind of government is this? What kind of civilised society are we living in where more than 1,200 families were thrown on the footpath and their lives destroyed for the sake of private profits.”  Debadutta Das, Retired Executive Judge, UNHRC joined the protest and expressed solidarity with the land struggle. He spoke at the protest and said, “The BBMP-Maverick Holdings Pvt. Ltd. Agreement is undemocratic and unjust. It is an inhuman and shameless system that perpetuates such gross injustice, not a democratic system. This agreement should immediately be scrapped and the land returned to the EWS residents, the rightful owners, if we are to remain a democracy.”

Issac Arul Selva, Co-convenor of Forum Against EWS Land Grab and Secretary of PUCL Bangalore explained the history of EWS slum starting from the 1985s until the demolition in 2013. He listed the irregularities through which the BBMP transferred the EWS Land to Maverick Holdings and said, “The political establishment and bureaucracy is working for the profits of a private company and is not concerned about the 1,200 Dalit and Minority families that were thrown out on the footpath ruthlessly. This brahminical unjust system has to be questioned and fought against.”

Abdul Rehman, Treasurer of SDPI, said, “Both the BJP government that transferred the land and the Congress government that is refusing to take back the land are making a mockery of our Constitution and Democracy. In this situation we cannot get justice without struggle”. He encouraged the EWS residents to stay put outside Town Hall until the government calls for negotiations.

The protesting EWS residents and other protestors shouted slogans throughout the day and vowed to continue their struggle till following demands are acceded to:-

 a) Withdraw the cabinet decision to handover EWS land to Maverick Holdings Pvt. Ltd. b) Make immediate provisions for housing for the evictees, especially, those still living on footpath. EWS residents have submitted five memorandums on this issue to the Chief Minister and made numerous attempts to negotiate with him. But all our attempts have been stone walled and the Congress government is turning a blind eye to the plight of the EWS residents living on footpaths. This Dharna will continue indefinitely until the Chief Minster meets our demands.