At least 30 people were injured, one with bullet, in daylong clashes between slum dwellers and the police as the housing and public works ministry went to demolish a slum at Kalyanpur in the capital Thursday morning.
The High Court, meanwhile, issued an injunction for three months on the demolition of the slum following a petition by a rights organisaiton amidst protests by the homeless people.
The drive, which continued throughout the day, rendered some 1,000 people homeless as over a hundred shanties and a makeshift kitchen market were brought down despite the court order.
Bullet-wounded 20-year-old human hauler driver Bijoy was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with wounds in the face, chest and hands, hospital sources said.
The eviction drive began around 9:00am at Kalyanpur Pora Bosti, which housed some 40,000 low-income people.
There was a High Court order of June 25, 2006 asking the authorities not to demolish the slum.
Witnesses said as the executive magistrate of the ministry of housing and public works, police and local goons, allegedly under the auspices of local lawmaker Aslamul Haque, went to the slum, the slum dwellers put up strong resistance burning spent tyres and throwing brick chips on them.
Police retaliated by firing gunshots, tear gas canisters and charging batons, leaving at least 30 injured.
Nur Alam, an executive magistrate of the ministry of housing and public works, said the 50-acre land was owned by Housing and Building Research Institute and of it about 15 acres were under illegal occupation.
‘We will free this land today’, he said.
He said the government issued repeated notices about the eviction.
When the protests continued, four bulldozers razed to the ground over 100 shanties and a tin-shed kitchen market till the evening.
When asked about the High Court injunction on the eviction, Nur Alam told New Age that he did not receive any copy of the order.
‘We will conduct the drive throughout the day,’ he said.
The slum dwellers alleged they were not given time to relocate their belongings. The women and the children were seen crying when their shanties were being demolished.
They alleged that the police arrested their leaders in false cases and intimidated others not to hinder the eviction.
‘There is a standing High Court order not to demolish the slum, but the government is not bothering about it,’ said Kalum Miah.
‘We want rehabilitation before eviction,’ said Rina Begum, who was residing at the slum for 28 years.
Nazma Begum, another resident of the slum, said her two children would have to stop their study as they could no longer stay in Dhaka.
Mirpur police officer-in-charge Bhuyan Mahbub Hossain told New Age that they did not attack anyone; they just cooperated with the authorities.
He brushed aside the allegation of police firing on slum dwellers.
When the drive was going on, the High Court bench of Justice Tariq ul Hakim and Justice Bhishmadev Chakrabortty issued the injunction asking the government not to arrest or harass any slum dweller without due process of law.
The bench passed the order after Ain O Salish Kendra moved a petition challenging a letter issued on January 10 by the National Housing Authority to the police to help them conduct the eviction drive on the government land.
The court passed the directive on secretaries of home and housing ministries, director of Housing Building Research and Institute and the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
Ain O Salish Kendra’s lawyer Kamal Hossain said there was High Court order of June 25, 2006 barring the authorities from demolishing the slum.
AOK petition said its lawyers had informed the Mirpur model police about the High court’s earlier injunction on the eviction but the police remained determined to carry out the order of the housing ministry saying the court order was not issued on them.
It said local lawmaker Aslamul Haque coming to the police station had also threaten the slum dwellers with dire consequence if they did not leave immediately.
When contacted, Aslamul Haque termed the allegation baseless.
‘None can prove that I or my people threatened them to leave the slum,’ he said.
Source: New Age