BENGALURU: Hundreds of migrants residing at Kundalahalli, who had come from West Bengal in search of work in the city, started vacating their huts on Monday after BBMP 'threatened' its residents with earthmovers and heavy police deployment. The New Indian Express visited the area on Monday evening to find a police platoon at the entrance of the settlements and only skeletal structures of the sheds remained.
The residents had each paid Rs 4,000 for a shed, apart from Rs 200 for electricity, Rs 400 for a fan and Rs 300 for a TV to the contractor, who in turn had paid the landowner. Babu Reddy, who owns 2.5 acres in the area. Reddy earns around Rs 3 lakh from the monthly rent paid by the migrants. Reddy disputes the figure is exaggerated. Reddy admitted that three complaints are filed against him in Varthur police station for "illegal" burning of garbage dumped on his land.
Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limbavali visited the migrants on Friday, asking them to vacate the sheds and putting out a tweet that he will not let any landowner in his constituency rent their land out to "Bangladeshi immigrants". BBMP officials on Monday gave the residents 48 hours to vacate the area.
When asked if they hailed from Bangladesh, the migrants, on the other hand, showed their Aadhaar cards, PAN cards and voter IDs, which bear their permanent address in West Bengal. They said they are being perceived to be immigrants only because they speak Bengali and most of them are Muslims.
Among the migrants, women used to work as housemaids in nearby apartments, while the men worked as rag-pickers. Rakibul Sekh and his mother Habijakhatun Sekh are natives of Nadia, West Bengal. "Those who have money for train tickets are leaving for their hometown, others are in search of a place to stay in the city," she said.
The settlements are surrounded by apartments, who have allegedly complained to the BBMP about the dumping of garbage collected by the "slum dwellers". Landowners who have rented out their land to migrants said there are police complaints registered against them.
The rag-pickers said they wouldn't burn the scrap because this is how they make a living. The burning of the garbage, they said, is by miscreants. The landowners said BBMP cannot force the migrants to leave.
Jagadeesh NC, BBMP Joint Commissioner, Mahadevapura zone, told TNIE, "How can you call them slum-dwellers? It can be called a slum only when the government declares it as one. They are illegal settlements. Our health inspector and other officials have given them three-days time after visiting them this morning. Unions like CITU is supporting them and want to meet with the Mayor and Commissioner in this regard."
Jagadeesh said, "We haven't forced them to leave. They are leaving voluntarily." Vijay Seethappa, member, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali, said: "The BBMP had no eviction orders to show. Then how did they turn up to mow down these sheds?"