Mumbai: 12 Dec
The background: The Mumbai High Court, which had ruled that Mahul (the extremely polluted industrial area where 5,500 poor families were forcibly rehabilitated after their homes were demolilshed) was unfit for human living, and ordered the government of Maharashtra to find alternative accommodation for these poor families. The real estate mafia-dominated Government has criminally declined to obey the orders of the Hon. High Court. The Mahul residents, in response, have been occupying a pavement at Vidyavihar near their old slums, and protesting there for over 42 days, while the government criminally continues to ignore all the hundreds of pollution related deaths, health and hazards and the construction mafia rakes in the money from the SRA scheme in the form of FSI and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) transfers.
The ‘solution’: However, now the Devendra Fadnavis Govt’s has finally communicated its response to the Mahul residents’ protest against the Govt’s inaction. It has decided to solve it problem by taking all dissenters and protestors off the voting list, and make 30,000 Indian citizens disappear from the Indian electorate during the 2019 elections – as punishment for protesting against human rights abuse and being dumped in #MumbaisToxicHell
This morning, Anita Dhole, petitioner in the same High Court Case whose orders the Govt. is ignoring, received a ‘punishment notice’ that her name had been taken off the voters’ list of Vidhyavihar, Mumbai, where she was born and raised nearly 40 years ago, at an address which is on her voter ID card, Aadhar card, electricity bills, etc. It argued in this notice that since she had been ‘rehabilitated’ elsewhere (Mahul), she couldn’t be counted as a voter in Vidyavihar. Now here’s where it gets even more interesting – Dhole, like the majority of the Mahul ‘rehabilitation’ cases have not even received allotment papers for the tenements that she has been allotted in Mahul, meaning, she will not even be counted as a voter in Mahul. Once she is scrapped off the Vidhyavihar list, she will cease to be on ANY voter’s list, and she will cease to exist as an Indian citizen eligible to vote! Moreso, since the High Court Order states that she, like 30,000 others like her, cannot be allowed to remain in unacceptably polluted Mahul. Instead of obeying High Court orders, the Govt is actually using the High Court orders to take poor people and victims of their atrocities off the voting list, fearing these people could vote against the ruling party.
Dhole was not the only one knocked off the voter list today. All the victims of the ‘government eraser’ have been protesters in the Mahul issue. And the majority of them have not been given allotment papers for Mahul either. All these people will ‘disappear’ overnight from the voters’ list of this country altogether. Dhole, along with 80 other victims of the ‘citizen-deleting’ move ahead of the 2019 elections, went to the Election office today at Ghatkopar west to complain peacefully. The office’s response was to call the police, who sent 5 police vans full of policemen, who were then instructed to escort 5 of the Mahul representatives to the Collector’s office in Mulund, where they were asked to present their grievance, flanked by policemen, as if they were the ones guilty of a crime.
They met Surendra Navle, Tehsildar, who assured them that if they could produce a copy of the High Court order instructing the Govt. to move them out of Mahul along with a written appeal/ complaint letter, he would correct the problem and reinstate their names in the Vidyavihar list. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
This very same drama had played out a few months earlier as well, when similar ‘erasing’ notices were served, and Dy Collector Tejas Samil had responded to the Mahul residents’ written complaint by committing that such a removal of names from the voter lost would not happen in future. Apparently, this was a lie, and it has happened again. Whenever voices from Mahul dissent, the Fadnavis’ Government’s response is to erase these citizens, and take away their vote – the only power available to poorer sections in a democracy to remove criminals and oppressors in their constituency from positions of power.