We the oldest citizens of Mumbai, the residents of Sion Koliwada, are getting kicked out of our homes after a builder forged our signatures! We need your help.
Please watch the video. On the 29th of May 2012, 60 policemen accompanied a BMC demolition squad to our basti. People stood in front of their homes to protest this illegal demolition. Police Officer Anant Rathe physically attacked Sunil Koli, a resident of the Koliwada and threatened his police force to strip women off their sarees if they stood in the way. The next day on the 31st of May 2012, at about 5 pm, the police arrived again.
Women from the Koliwada, Ambujwadi and Kandamwar Nagar were sitting on a peaceful protest when the police started to drag them by their hair, into the waiting police vans. The women spent 4 nights in jail. To add insult to the injury there are false charges of rioting and attempt to murder slapped on them.
Sion Koliwada is a settlement of the indigenous Koli or fisherfolk community of Mumbai. They are the original inhabitants of the city. A GR from 1939 proves that the Kolis have been living here since then.
In 1999, builder Sudhakar Shetty approached the residents with plans to redevelop the land. When he did not get the requisite 70% consent, he forged signatures on the consent forms.
On one consent form dated 20/7/1999, is the signature of Eknath Koli who had died two years ago in 1997. Another consent form has the signature of Lilabai Vishnu Patil, signed in English, even though Lilabai is actually illiterate and has only ever used thumb prints for all her official documents.
The builders claim that they had obtained the necessary consensus from residents who had formed the ‘Shiv Koliwada Co-operative Housing Society.' However, we know that the members of this society committee are the builders' henchmen and that no formal talks took place between the builders and us.
This has been a long fight...and we have been fighting it by ourselves...
These chawls were built on the Education Department’s land. The land used to house a primary school which was later used as 7 residential quarters for teachers. How he managed permissions to demolish the chawls and build on the Education Department’s land is a mystery even to the BMC.
An RTI filed by the residents of the Koliwada demanding to know where the teachers were moved, found the BMC clueless.
I am a resident of the basti and I request you to sign my petition to the Minister of Housing and Development, Municipal Commissioner, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Home Minister of Maharashtra, Commissioner of Police Maharashtra to :
1) Hand over the case of Sion Kodiwada to CBI
2) Drop all false charges on the women of Koliwala
3) Dissolve the Sion Koliwada case as this is based on forgery. Allow the residents to go in for self-development.
Our basti deserves justice. We are the oldest residents of Mumbai and want to live in peace, in our homes. Tell the police and builders to stop harassing the basti residents.
The Hindu wrote about the demolition and the police atrocities and you can read the story here. You can find more info on the issue here at this blog.
Stand with us in our fight. Please sign this petition and share it on Facebook and Twitter.
Resident, Sion Koliwada