The police in Karnataka’s capital city Bengaluru and the municipality have demolished more than 100 makeshift homes during an eviction drive in Kariyammana Agrahara, a locality in the suburb of Bellandur, The Indian Express reported on Monday.
The police alleged that the tenants were “illegal Bangladeshi migrants”, and claimed the landowner had been sent an eviction notice. Activists, however, dismissed the police’s claim and said the people who had lost their homes were from various parts of the state, and North India. They worked in the city as security guards, domestic worker, and construction workers, the activists added.
The eviction was carried out at a time when protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens are going on across India. The register is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants.
The residents of Kariyammana Agrahara claimed that they were not given prior notice, and added that they had documents to prove their citizenship.
Advocate and activist Vinay Sreenivasa said more than 200 houses were demolished. “Men who came in plainclothes to conduct the demolition drive said they were Marathahalli police providing protection to BBMP officials,” he added. “However, there were no BBMP officials present near the site.”
The assistant executive engineer of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike had written to Marathahalli police station on Saturday, seeking police protection to carry out the drive, The Hindu reported.
“When we asked the reason behind the move, they said they are getting it done because the people here are illegal Bangladeshis,” said Sreenivasa. “They stopped the demolition only when we asked them to produce the order directing them to do so. If the people staying in these makeshift houses are Bangladeshis, they need to identify them first and then take action. Why do they have to demolish all the houses?”
The landowner, Chetan Babu, also said the evicted residents had documents to prove their Indian citizenship. “But since we were issued a notice by the police, we evicted them,” he told The Indian Express.
On January 12, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Arvind Limbavali had claimed that Bangladeshi immigrants had settled down in the locality. “Few people have taken shelter under illegally constructed sheds located in Kariyammana Agrahara of Bellanduru, which is within the jurisdiction of our Mahadevapura Assembly constituency,” he tweeted. “Illegal activities were taking place in those sheds and the environment was spoiled without cleanliness, hence the area was a site of illegal activity.”
The MLA added that authorities had been instructed to take action against the immigrant. “Officials are reviewing and taking action,” Limbavali said. “Residents from other areas have settled here, some of them are suspected to be illegal immigrants of Bangladesh.”