Amid protests raging countrywide against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA), the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Sunday razed to the ground shanties in Kariyammana Agrahara, leaving hundreds of migrant families from Assam, Tripura, Bengal, Bihar and even North Karnataka on the streets. The electricity and water supply to the location was cut off three days ago.
Co-incidentally, the demolition came close on the heels of a tweet by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA, Arvind Limbavalli, sharing a video and claiming that the settlements belonged to “illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.”
However, a report by NewsMinute, citing BBMP sources, said the demolition drive was unauthorised.
According to TNM, it was Narayan Swamy, Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE), Mahadevapura Zone, who had given the order for carrying out the demolitions despite not having the authority to do so on private land. “He gave the order based on complaints by apartment residents in the area,” the report said.
"We have relieved him (AEE) and sent him to his parent department - Public Works Department (PWD). We will also be writing to the secretary of PWD department to take action against him including that of suspension. The demolitions were unauthorised," BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar told TNM.
The demolished about 100 shanties mainly housed daily wagers and domestic workers from Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and even North Karnataka—all Indians, say local reports.
The unauthorised demolition followed a video shared a week ago on social media, claiming the “illegal Bangladeshi immigrants” had taken shelter in the makeshift settlement behind Mantri Espana Apartment in Bellandur. This was tweeted and shared by the local BJP MLA.
The poor migrant families told local reporters that they even showed their Aadhar and voter ID cards and those from Assam also showed their names listed on the National Register of Citizens to prove they were Indians, yet the BBMP authorities continued to raze their homes.
“We did not get a prior intimation. The police came here with an excavator and began demolishing rooms. We were not even given the time to retrieve some of our items in the rooms. Why didn’t the police check our documents?" asked Munni Begum, 23, from Assam told TNM.
As of now, nobody knows the origin of the video that triggered the demolition drive, which was shared by the BJP MLA, as well as flashed by Suvarna news channel last week, claiming the presence of “Bangladeshi immigrants” in Bellandur.
The settlement reportedly also housed domestic workers who service the tony apartments in Bellandur.
"We are working as housekeepers and cleaners here. We are also human just like the people who have a problem with us being here. If the police doubt our citizenship, they should re-verify our documents," Mohammed Ahad-ul, 20, from Assam, told TNM.
Condemning the BBMP drive that has left hundreds of families Indian homeless, Vinay Sreenivasa, an advocate with the Alternative Law Forum, told TNM that according to local, no notice whatsoever was sent to them before the razing of their homes
“If there are any foreigners staying illegally, the police should proceed under Foreigners Act. That Act or any other law does not give power to police to ask someone to vacate their tenants," he said.