Demolition: Punish BBMP official

Demolition: Punish BBMP official

The demolition of hundreds of huts in Bengaluru’s Bellandur and Kariyammana Agrahara over the weekend, mainly based on a WhatsApp video alleging that they were occupied by illegal Bangladeshi migrants, and not on any credible information, exposes the diabolical mindset of certain officials. At the end of the demolition drive carried out by a mid-level official of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), thousands of poor were rendered homeless, but not even a single illegal Bangladeshi migrant was arrested. On the contrary, it emerged that while some of the residents were from the North-East, most others were from North Karnataka who had come to the city to eke out a living after they lost all their belongings in the recent floods. The hutments were located on private property, and therefore the BBMP’s Assistant Executive Engineer (Marathahalli) clearly acted with mala fide intent as no orders had been issued by the civic body authorising eviction or demolition nor were notices served on the residents. Razing houses, even if they are occupied by migrants, without following the due process of law, amounts to a grave violation of human rights.

The issue had been simmering for some time after the WhatsApp video was tweeted by Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limbavali, under whose constituency Bellandur falls, accusing the “migrants” of indulging in “illegal activities.” The police, who had subsequently visited the area, could not identify any illegal migrant as the residents were able to produce their Aadhaar cards, voter identification and other documents to prove they were Indian citizens. Yet, the BBMP official went ahead with the demolition under “oral instructions” from some unseen hand, keeping even BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar in the dark. At a time when the minorities are already feeling insecure over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), such actions will only make them even more anxious. The havoc that officers with a biased mind, like the AEE in the instant case, can wreak if they are involved in the CAA or NRC exercise, can easily be imagined.

Even assuming that the residents were illegal migrants, the correct course of action would have been to hand them over to the police who would then initiate deportation proceedings. It appears that the local police and BBMP officers were influenced by the paranoia created by the troll army and fuelled by the local MLA, who were baying for the blood of the so-called illegal migrants. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa should order an inquiry and hand down exemplary punishment to the guilty officers as such wilful abuse of the rule of law to satisfy certain vested interest groups could ultimately lead to anarchy.

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