Kazakhstan national Ekaterima Levitskaya came to India on a two-week pilgrimage. Three weeks have passed since, but Levitskaya — who joined ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) and embraced Hinduism eight years ago — is still here.
For, Levitskaya, who prefers to be known by her Hindu name Rati Manjari, has no home to return to. She lives on a few saris, slippers and generosity of ISKCON trust in Juhu. Dressed in a pale pink sari, she shudders when she thinks about November 22.
She was on her way from Vrindavan to New Delhi to catch a flight home when she got the news that nearly 200 policemen, bulldozers, lorries and ambulances had descended on their farm at 1 pm. All men had left for work by then. The policemen evacuated women and children razed their homes to the ground.
She found it hard to believe till she saw the footage of the demolition drama. It was sneakily recorded by another ISKCON devotee. Levitskaya couldn’t help crying on seeing the footage. “It was minus 13 that day. It will be minus 25 soon. How can they be so merciless? The government is making Kazakh citizens homeless,” she said. The government carried out the demolition with court approval on the grounds that they were not “privatised”.
Her home was adjacent to a 48-hectare farm plot that belongs to ISKCON’s Vedic-style community centre. Her neighbours, many of whom are ISKCON members, had bought houses there in 2000. After the government passed the law of privatisation in 2003, they had made several applications for ownership. But their applications were turned down.
Shockingly, only the Hindu homes were not granted ownership. Now also only Hindu homes were bulldozed into rubble.
“This is religious discrimination,” she said. Her family in Kazakhstan is living with friends there. She wants her home back and compensation. She also appealed to Indians to lend “humanitarian support to help Hindus of Kazakhstan.”
ISCKON leaders from several countries came to the Juhu centre and on Wednesday asked the Indian government to use diplomatic channels to stop these atrocities against Hindus in Kazakhstan.