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Home of second 'Slumdog' child star demolished

india Updated: May 20, 2009 17:07 IST

AFP
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A second child star of the hit film Slumdog Millionaire has seen her shantytown home pulled down, she and her family said on Wednesday, just one week after her co-star saw his shack demolished.

The ramshackle home of nine-year-old Rubina Ali was one of about 25 properties near train tracks in the Gareeb Nagar slum in central Mumbai that was torn down.

About two dozen armed police proceeded with the demolition at about 11:00 am, witnesses said.

Rubina, who played the young Latika, the main female character in the Oscar-winning film, was out at the time but her father Rafiq was injured during the demolition and taken to hospital.

The girl told reporters: "I had gone to the market and when I came back they had broken down the house. I don't know where I will sleep tonight. I have no roof over my head."

Last week, a corrugated iron-and-bamboo shack in the same area where her co-star Azharuddin Ismail lived was demolished as part of a drive by the civic authorities to get rid of illegal slum dwellings.

Work to clear illegally-built lean-tos and tarpaulin-covered huts is a regular occurrence in Mumbai, particularly before the monsoon season, which starts in June and lasts until September.

More than half of Mumbai's estimated 18 million residents live in either designated slums or illegal shanties. Many of them are next to sewers which overflow during heavy rains.

But the municipal authorities readily admit that they can do little to stop the makeshift homes being rebuilt because of the city's acute housing shortage.

M.G. Shaker, secretary of the National Slumdwellers Federation, said people are often given little or no notice that their houses will be demolished, and because they have nowhere to go, they stay on the same land.

"They rebuild on the same spot," he said. "They should be given alternative accommodation."

Azharuddin's family have since rebuilt their home.

A railway police official who was involved in clearing Rubina's house, Parmand Mishra, told reporters: "These huts were illegal and built on railway property."

But the girl's step-mother, Munni, said: "It was a permanent structure and not illegal but still they came and broke it down."