Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Nepal: Squatter Settlements Bulldozed – Police Fire Teargas and Rubber Bullets

Posted by hetty7 on May 18, 2012

The Nepali people are being bulldozed and teargassed.  For living in settlements.  And being poor in one of the poorest countries in the world.  And in a country that is known for its Maoist revolutionary  people and its revolutionary struggle.

The media calls them squatters.  There is an estimated population of 25,000 people living in various spots along the Bagmati river in  Kathmandu.

We should also remind readers that these people are being removed by a government led by Baburam Bhattarai, a member of one wing of the UCPN(M). Revolutionary forces within the Maoist party have refused to participate in this government. 

We will publish all the stories on this we can find.  And if readers have info on this please send your comments.

This article is from my republica

Government Bulldozes Bagmati Squatter Settlement

Arjun Poudel

Kathmandu, May 9: Over 250 squatter homes were demolished when the authorities sent bulldozers to the slum settlement on the  bank of the Bagmati river near Thapathali Tuesday morning.Around 1,000 people living in the settlement have become homeless and, with nowhere to go, are now forced to live in the open at the UN Park nearby. Many squatters were seen sitting under trees at the UN Park in the evening while a few were taking away their belongings to tipper trucks.

Security persons pitched tents in the area to camp overnight and make sure  the squatters don’t install temporary structures overnight.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Kathmandu Town Development  Authority and the high-powered Committee for Integrated Development Of Bagmati Civilization used three bulldozers with massive security backup to evict the squatters. Around 1,800 Armed Police Force (APF) and Nepal Police personnel were used in the operation.

Panic stricken children  and women were seen crying out  in despair as the bulldozers started to wreak havoc  at six in the morning. A few families  at the western end of the settlement could not even remove their belongings before  the bulldozers  arrived from the direction of the maternity hospital. Others living further upstream  were exerting pressure to not evacuate the houses but they later removed their belongings after seeing the bulldozers  ruthlessly flattening even the furnished houses.

Security personnel  fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the squatters when they tried to resist. Dozens of women and children who were used as a human shield  were arrested and later released. Twelve landless squatters were injured in the scuffle with police, three of them critically  with head injuries. All the injured are receiving treatment in the hospital.

A primary school inside the settlement, with over 150 students, was also demolished. “All the property  of the school has been destroyed in the demolition drive,” said Kalyan Adhikari, teacher at the school, Mechi-Mahakali School, adding, “We don’t know where the students will go now.”

Bimala Thapa, a seventh grader at Guheshwari Secondary School, could not go to school Tuesday as her house was destroyed by the authorities. “I will go to school only after this matter is resolved.,” she said. She said she had not eaten anything as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, and her seven-year old brother was taken away by police.

Nisha Pandey,13, a fourth-grader at the demolished school, said her father has been missing for five years and her mother is bed-ridden. Her elder brother, who went to the Gulf for work around eight months ago, has not been in contact since. His wife, the sole breadwinner in the family, was employed in a church  at the settlement, but that too was demolished Tuesday.

Sunil Tamang, four, is worried as the cart her mother used to sell vegetables to support the family, was also destroyed by the police.

“I have nowhere to go,” said Maya KC, 45, showing bruises all over her body  from police beating. “All our belongings were buried under the demolished hut,” KC complained. She said she had not eaten anything since the previous night when she saw police cordoning off the settlement. “I felt too depressed to cook. We could not sleep the whole night,” she added.

All of her kitchen utensils were buried in the rubble. She said that after her husband was maimed in a road accident her family of six moved to Kathmandu for the schooling of four daughters. “We cannot survive for even a month on the produce of our land in the village and my husband is unable to work,” she added. She ran a small tea shop in the squatter settlement  to support her family.

AMong gthe other displaced, dozens are pregnant and postnatal women. They seemed terrified by the thick presence of the police and the warnings to vacate the place within two hours.

The Landless Squatters Struggle Committee (LSSC) has decided to organize a protest in response to the demolition. The committee has announced a general strike for Wednesday and said a torch rally will be organized Tuesday evening. “The revolutionary government has decided to solve the problem of squatters with bulldozers and bullets,” Padam Devkota, chairman of the committee, said. “This demolition shows how hollow is the Maoist slogan of food, shelter and clothes,” he added. He said the squatters have nowhere to go and will remain under the open sky. Devkota threatened to launch a nationwide campaign in response to the government action.

The squatters had build their homes on the bank of the Bagmati from six years back.

Displaced Squatters to be relocated

The families of genuinely landless squatters evicted from the bank of the Bagmati river on Tuesday will be relocated to Ichangunarayan, says the Highpower Committee for Development of Integrated Bagmati Civilization

The committee has recognized  39 families living on the river bank behind the Maternity Hospital in Thapathali as genuinely landless squatters.

“We are ready to provide Rs 15,000 to each of the 39 evicted families for temporary lodging arrangement”, said Mahesh Basnet, president of the committee. “Later they will be relocated to Ichangunarayan.”

The Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) has already purchased five ropanis of land in Ichangunarayan for resettlement of the evicted landless squatters families.

Earlier, all 251 families living on the river bank in Thapathali area were asked to fill out verification forms and distributed by DUDBC. However, only 67 of them  had filled out the forms. Of them, 39 have been identified as genuine landless squatters.

The committee has asked even those families who earlier refused to participate in the verification process to fill out forms and cooperate with the government’s eviction drive. “Those who first refused to cooperate with us  can still fill out forms and claim rights to be relocated,” said Basnet.

According to Basnet, all landless squatters living along the river bank  in Minbhavan, Shankhamul, Teku, Thapathali and Tilganga area will be evicted from the public land within the ongoing fiscal year. However, the evacuation drive that began on Tuesday  will not continue for the next few days. “We will review our action,” said Basnet. “We will resume the drive only after that. ”

Earlier, when DUDBC had asked all landless squatters living along the riverbank from Tilganga to Teku to participate in the verification process, altogether 1084 families had filled out the forms claiming to be genuinely landless. Later, DUDBC had decided to involve only those landless squatters living in Thapathali area in the first phase of verification process.

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