‘Illegal’ cordon & search leaves Hyderabad's slum dwellers in shock

While these search operations have become common in the lower income communities in the city, the timing of these checks in these slums has left the residents concerned.

Published: 10th November 2021 08:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2021 08:33 AM   |  A+A-

The recent cordon and search operation at Laxmaiah and Chandraiah huts creates panic among the residents.

The recent cordon and search operation at Laxmaiah and Chandraiah huts creates panic among the residents. (Photo | VINAY MADAPU)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: “They never showed us any warrant before checking our homes. As they are police and as we know we haven’t done anything wrong, we allowed them inside” says Vijay M, a resident of the Chandraiah and Laxmaiah huts located in Malakpet on the banks of Musi River. His house was one amongst 500 homes that were checked as part of the recent cordon and search special drive by Hyderabad police to find contraband and drugs. 

While these search operations have become common in the lower-income communities in the city, the timing of these checks in these slums has left the residents concerned.“In October, there were floods and we lost all our belongings like cylinders, utensils, TV and clothes. In fact, in some places, the entire roof collapsed. Despite that, we rebuilt our homes. But now we hear that Tahsildar’s office is trying to move us to homes allotted for a few families at Munganoor Rajiv Gruha Kalpa. But that location is around 20 km away with no proper water supply and moreover, only a few families were allotted those,” adds Anji, another resident.

This anxiety about not being given promised homes, coupled with recent visits of police have added to the confusion on eviction and increased stress on 2000-odd individuals living in the area. “As you know the lockdown has been very difficult with no work. Our women who work as domestic helps were not even allowed to step into the homes. After that, the floods came and took all our belongings and now this check,” lamented another resident. Activists working with affected communities questioned the police on the legality of such cordon and search operations. 

The activists say are being carried out without any substantial proof of offence. In the latest operation too, police found no contraband and drugs.“What we are given to understand is that these searches are being carried out under Section 94 of CrPC. But how can such blanket warrants be issued to hold searches across multiple homes? They are randomly entering homes and checking utensils, kirana items and even water bottles,” said SQ Masood, a social activist. 

He describes these checks, which were started back in  2012-13, as a “class-based discrimination”. “The homes in Laxmaiah and Chandraiah huts are of SCs, STs and Muslims who are of a lower class, making them easy targets for these checks. On what basis is the police assuming these people handle drugs and after the checks did they find any drugs,” he wondered.

Cordon and search of these huts are not new. They were rocked two years ago when police entered their homes at 1 am, creating panic among the residents. “Two years ago, police did the same thing and checked our homes at 1 am, which left all of us in a state of shock and fear. Compared to that, this time they came at 7 pm when there was public and media so we felt less scared,” said Shivamma, another resident.

Many persons fear they will be stigmatised in the neighbourhood if the police keep visiting. “We just want to lead decent lives as we did for 30-40 years in the same locality. We have small children at home and we are not able to send them schools due to the lockdown and financial difficulties. Hopefully, this time around we will be given a home in the city and not forced to live here on the banks amidst flooding waters,” added Anji.

Meanwhile, legal experts say that while police with a legal warrant can search a house of a suspect, but going after several homes and entering their private space is not justified. “In one cordon and search operation, they found many stolen bikes, which shows that these searches help the society at large. But then there are also cordon and searches that are discriminatory and happen only in disadvantaged communities with no justified suspicion,” explained Karam Komireddy, a lawyer. 

Meanwhile, the local police contradicted the claims of locals, saying they did not enter homes and only checked the Musi river bed and bank. “We did not enter any homes and only checked the river bed. We did not search any houses. We only checked the riverside,” said Malakpet SHO K Srinivas.


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