Dr. Sylvia Karpagam
(Please read an earlier article in Round Table India by Gee Ameena Suleiman for background information on the brutal eviction of poor residents from EWS quarters in Ejipura, Bengaluru, by the government)
The day before yesterday, women and activists screamed as the bulldozers advanced. The intent was single-minded – to raze to the ground the homes of the economically weaker sections of society at one of the large slums in Bangalore. They stalled it for a few hours. I was there.
Between then and now, the homes don’t exist. The activists and women are in prison and all that lies there at the EWS quarters is rubble.
But that doesn’t bother me so much. What bothers me, that I must share, is that I looked into the eyes of the policemen there. What I saw fills me with dread. I saw the cold murderous saffron madness. I came face to face – not with a policeman doing a difficult duty, but an enemy – armed with his eyes and head and rifle – to kill.
Not just to kill – but to kill without compassion. This is then the madness that the Nazis had when they brutally massacred. This is the same madness that happened in Gujarat.
Why are we sanctioning them by calling them the police? These are the people Muslims being ravaged in Gujarat ran to. These were the same people who systematically directed the burning Muslims back to the sainiks.
It is on in Karnataka. The BJP government has not been quiet. It has taken over the police force and now their brutality will grow. In these next few months before the elections, the BJP will work to leave its mark on the state. To forever mark Karnataka as a successful saffron experiment.
The people at the EWS quarters are poor, desperately so. They already lived in pathetic tin houses – houses that no human should live in and houses that no decent society would allow others to live in. And these houses have been razed to to ground in a single day even as people were begging them not to and even as things were still in the house. Yes these things were dirty and old and not worth a second glance (or even a second sniff), but they were somebody’s only possession. These are people who are schedule castes who clean and sell vegetables, who clean the streets, who work as domestic help and construction workers. They go to work every morning. They count up their savings in the evening.
Bangalore continues – with its people whizzing around in fancy cars in fancy clubs. This is the Bangalore without a conscious, a Bangalore without eyes, a Bangalore without soul.
This then is the curse of the poor – that no one wants them, that they will be humiliated, they will be man-handled, they will be arrested, molested, beaten and their rich brethren will roll up their windows and drive past them.
But on that day, I heard the women protest outside the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike. I heard their voices – and it was LOUD AND CLEAR. These are not voices that can be suppressed. They will rise and rise and rise to a deafening roar.
Then – the world WILL hear.