700 families evicted from Bengaluru labour sheds

700 families evicted from Bengaluru labour sheds

Sources said local politicians decided to remove the labourers as they blamed them for the rise in incidents of crime.

Migrant families have been living in the vacant private land for a decade. DH Photo/S K Dinesh

Around 700 migrant families living in labour sheds at East Bengaluru have been forcefully evicted at the urging of the Mahadevapura MLA.

The families, consisting of women, children and infants, were staying in Devarabeesanahalli, Varthur, Kariyammana Agrahara, Munekolala and Bellandur.

On the evening of November 30, a couple of earthmovers, with police presence, razed down a portion of the labour settlement at the Munekolala labour camp. Families occupying the shed rushed to take shelter at other nearby sheds occupied by friends and relatives to spend the night. The labourers were given time till Monday to move out.

The labour sheds came up on vacant private lands surrounding the lake about 10 years ago when East Bengaluru was witnessing a real-estate boom.

Sources said local politicians decided to remove the labourers as they blamed them for the rise in incidents of crime. The police said they did not receive communication from the BBMP, though local land owners and the BBMP should seek police security for such evictions.

“Even if the communication had come from BBMP, we wouldn’t have had time to gather a large force to offer security,” a senior police official said.

About 700 families occupy these sheds, including infants, children and women, numbering around 7,000. The sheds are fanned out across the city’s eastern parts.

A majority of these migrants are from West Bengal and Odisha, while a good number have also arrived here through the porous Bangladeshi borders in search of work.

Sources said politicians regarded the settlement as a vote bank, while local leaders help them get Aadhaar cards and voter identification during election time.

Post the election, local leaders studied the voting pattern among the settlers and found that the majority from West Bengal and Odisha voted for the Congress as the grand old party pledged its alliance with (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee. Barely a few illegal Bangladeshis voted for the BJP out of loyalty.

Clearly unhappy, political leaders threw the migrants out of their shelters with a deadline to leave by Monday, sources said. 

Human rights activists and those working for economically weaker sections point out that the migrants have no other place to go. “There are infants and elderly people, too, among them,” said Khaleem Ullah, an activist with Movement for Justice. “They are evicted at a time when it is severely cold at night. Where’ll they find shelter?”