Trump's entry forces Gujarat slum dwellers to exit

US President Donald Trump's entry serves eviction notice to Gujarat slum dwellers

A man applies finishing touches to paintings of U.S. President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a wall as part of a beautification along a route that Trump and Modi will be taking during Trump's upcoming visit, in Ahmedabad. (PTI Photo)

In a bid to beautify the roads through which US president Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's roadshow would pass the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has sealed three pan shops near airport circle even as the construction of the wall, not far from these shops, to cover the slum near Indira bridge has almost been completed. On the route for the roadshow, shops are being forcefully shut by 10 PM and police have started checking commuters randomly in the night.

Meanwhile, 45 people living near the Motera cricket stadium have received legal notices asking them to leave the place where they have been living for the past several years. The slum that overlooks the refurbished stadium, which will be inaugurated by Trump and Modi in a grand function on February 24, has been home to over 200 families of construction workers for at least 10 to 15 years.

"Some officers came to meet us today and warned not to speak to media. They have ensured us that we will not be evicted for now," said a resident while refusing to give his name. He said that he has been living for the past two years and works as a construction worker. The slum doesn't have any civic facilities. There are couple of water couple of water taps that give water supply twice a day. The make-shift houses are scattered that hardly has any pucca construction.

"I am living with my wife and children for the past five years. I work as a construction labourer. I can't afford to shift to any other place. I don't know where will go if evicted," said an agitated Dineshbhai who is among the 45 persons who have received the notice. It is to be noted that this slum doesn't fall on the way of proposed roadshow. But it is visible from the stadium because of which the AMC is suspected to issued notice dated 11th February.

Meanwhile, the construction of the controversial wall concealing another slum area along the proposed route of the roadshow has been completed. The wall is likely to be painted by Wednesday to beautify the slum area known as Saraniya Vaas that is home to nearly a thousand families. Locals said that they have to water taps that provide them water twice a day. In some of the household, toilets have been constructed but they are useless since there is no water supply. The residents mostly go to a nearby public toilet to relieve themselves.

"I wish the government could have beautify the walls of our houses rather building this wall and water supply. I have no idea for whom it has been constructed. But, my children have been telling me that a mota manas (big person) will be passing through this road and that's why our houses are being concealed by this wall," said Manuben Saraniya, 55, a resident.

She said that the locality is named after its residents Saraniyas who are known as Sikligar or Panchal community. Saraniyas also also known as blacksmith community. "Now a days we are mostly engaged in sharpening blades. You can find our community members roaming in the city bicycles with a special tool that sharpens knives," said Jasubhai Saraniya, another resident.

While the Congress has been silent on these issues, ex chief minister and Nationalist Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela on Tuesday announced that he would be visiting the locality to talk to the residents. Ina press release he stated, "construction of this wall is nothing but an attempt to cover failure of state and central governments."

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