Baldeo Basti in Jamshedpur is a goner. In 15 days, they will face government bulldozers if they don’t vacate the land.
But, why for? "They (authorities) want to build hotels and malls on our basti land where we have been living for generations—since the British time. We will not vacate. They can build, whatever they want, on our dead bodies," said Kisto Sirkar, Mukhia of the Basti who led a procession of over a thousand basti dwellers and gheraoed the deputy commissioner office.
The authorities have served a notice on the residents on Friday to the basti asking them to vacate the land within fifteen days or face the bulldozer-- a diktat that even the British and the Bihar government had refrained from serving them.
Basti police station incharge Arun Mishra said, "These people have illegally occupied the TISCO land and that's all there is to it".
Even if that's true the oldest person from the Basti, which houses 456 families, was not born when the land was 'illegally occupied' and Kisto cannot remember hearing it mentioned in the basti ever.
But Kisto's argument is not related to the legality of occupancy.
"We want a 'bandobasti' (rehabilitation) for our people before evacuation. We are urban poor and we too contribute to our city's development. They just cannot erase our existence. We'll face bulldozer and bullets and go for hunger strike unless they come out with a solution", Kisto said.