Forest Department razes Cheeta Camp to the ground, allegedly without any notice to slum dwellers

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: May 7, 2018
600 homes belonging to the inhabitants of Mumbai’s Cheetah Camp were demolished by the Forest Department on May 7. The Forest Department carried out the demolitions purportedly to remove illegal encroachers from forest land. However, residents and activists allege that people were not given proper notice to vacate their homes before the bulldozers took them down.

“They have crushed everything. People were not even given time to remove their belongings. Everything they own now lies under the rubble,” says Bilal Khan of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), an organisation that has been fighting for the rights if slum dwellers. These pictures show how the entire neighbourhood was razed to the ground.

Image Courtesy: Bilal Khan

On May 6, GBGBA that is a part of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), had issued a press release warning against the forcible demolition of slums in Cheetah Camp in Trombay as well as Bheemchhaya in Kannamwar Nagar. “Bheemchhaya is a Dalit majority community with 800 households while Cheeta Camp is a Muslim majority slum community with 600 households,” said the press release. “These slums are protected as per Maharashtra Slum Act but the Forest Department has notified these areas as ‘reserved forest’ and is disrespecting the housing rights of the slum dwellers by refusing to rehabilitate the protected slum dwellers,” it continued.

The demolition at Bheemchhaya will take place later this month. GBGBA says, “This government is disregarding the vulnerabilities of the Dalits and minority communities in this country by demolishing their only shelter. This will lead to further marginlisation of these communities.”