Criminalising The Poor And Demolition Of Houses Under “Gunda Dhar-Pakad Abhiyaan” In Indore


When Administration starts to behave like a Cruel Father and begins to dominate your life and lifestyles, it becomes difficult to live in the city. We never know what cruel strategy would then they will use to attack us. The administration of Indore (The largest city in state of Madhya Pradesh) is behaving like a similar Cruel and Arrogant Father to the poor and lower middle class population of the city for last few years now. This administrative system consists of Indore Municipal Corporation, Indore Development Authority, the District Administrative Authority of Indore and also Indore Police. They are behaving in the manner like they have procured the whole of land and lives of people living in Indore. Without even analysing the success or failure of relocations done in the previously launched schemes on Housing like BSUP (Basic Services for Urban Poor) under JNNURM (Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission), they have begun to work on new schemes for Housing like Housing For All (Pradhan Mantri Was Yojana) or PMAY Scheme. People have already been shifted to Transit Camps in one of three relocations sites (Bhuri Tekri) in Indore. 3 Relocation sites along with 14 slums have been pointed for the First Phase of relocation through In-situ Relocation and Affordable Housing programmes of PMAY. People are being shifted, their houses are being demolished, Forced to live in Transit Camps, Forced to shift in Multi storied Relocations sites from horizontal houses of Slums, all on the government’s will. People are being oppressed, if they wish to resist, they are being thrashed. People have lost their lives in struggle to save their homes in slums. Situation is getting worse in Indore. There are several issues and Human Rights issues related to this all and I will be discussing them all in later articles in the same series. As of now I have a more serious issue to discuss which is pretty much related to the issue Criminalising the Poor and Evictions. This is the worst of all acts done by Indore Administration in recent past for demolition of houses. You can call it anything, Control of crime by Police or Seizing the lands from People by Indore Municipal Corporation.

This whole campaign has been designed by the DIG of Police in Indore Mr Harinarayanchari Mishra to break the economic base of the rowdies or criminals who have cases against them for Robbery, Chain snatching, illegal Possession of land, Extortion etc. The Action Plan of the campaign has also been prepared by him. Police has made a document of information of the all such criminals in city and to demolish their homes to end the so called “Gunda Raj” in City. In last 18 days, 33 of such criminals most of whom are already in prison were listed out and their houses have been demolished in the campaign to free the land of more than Rs 200 Crore, as said by the Administration. Police is patting its back for this saying that this the first case of its kind where the Economic Base of criminals have been broken to diminish the crime from city. They are claiming that these criminals and several others have said in Police Stations that they want to reform themselves and submitting affidavits in the Station that they will never get involved in any crime hereafter. This campaign is being publicised on the name of Joint-operation y Police and Municipal Corporation to end crime in the city and People in Indore are celebrating this.

There is another perspective to look at this whole campaign and which is dangerous. In the first look either it gives us a shock or makes us feel happy. This is a disturbing campaign by administration as no section of Indian Panel Code or Articles of Constitution of India defines the punishment for crimes like Chain Snatching and Extortion should be the demolition of houses. There are well defined punishments for the crimes as defined in Indian Panel code and we can discuss on the agree of crime and necessity for punishments. But from where have they derived this punishment for the criminals of any charge to demolish their homes and break their economic base?

Front view of Taufiq's house
Front view of Taufiq’s house
Only room of Taufiq's House
Only room of Taufiq’s House

If that is not the case then, isn’t the act of Indore Police and IMC Unconstitutional and Illegal? In one of such incidents, IMC and Police demolished the house of Taufiq in the morning of July 27th who is in prison on the charges of participation in conflict. The family of Taufiq is sitting on the debris of their demolished house and remembering the crime for which they all have been punished. His mother says, “My son should have been punished for the crime which he committed and only he should have been punished. Why have they punished us for the crime none of us were part of? This house is on my name, we pleaded the authority saying this. They put the notice on the evening of 26th and came to demolish in the morning on 27th. We also got the Stay Order from Court but they didn’t listen to our Lawyer that time. Even our Ward Councillor was pleading them. They didn’t listen to anyone and demolished it.” Family consists of mother, father, wife and a small child who all are compelled to sit in a Polythene shade in their house. Neighbours say that they came in huge number and blocked all the entrance to the area.

House of babar
House of babar   

This is an evident example of how arrogant has the administration become that they have to criminalise the doors to get a control over their lands to demolish. This whole act of Police and IMC also violates the Human Rights and to the worse Women rights and Child Rights. In another incident they also demolished the house of Babar on the same morning. Babar is in prison for last 2 years on the charges of illegal possession of liquor. He has a family of 6 and a separated parents. His mother is suffering from Stomach Cancer. His parents do not live together but in the moment of distress they are standing together; father with a rod in his right leg and mother with cancer. As the only earning member of family was in jail, family arranged their own source of earning through giving space of shop on rent. But what remain there is Iron Rod and Debris.

Transit Camp at Bhuri Tekri
Transit Camp at Bhuri Tekri

All of these houses have been demolished on the charges of illegal construction on illegal land. The Khajrana area of Indore has an estimated population of more than 4 Lakh and every family has either the Patta of Land or Notified land by Notary. Then comes the matter of illegal land and the punishment for the illegal construction. Two slums of Khajrana area namely Sharjahan Colony and Aman Nagar have also been pointed for the relocation in the first phase of PMAY. The Executive Officer of PMAY(HFA) scheme in Indore says that these places have become the centre of crime and criminals in Indore so it is always a better choice to push them out of city to make city safe and secure. There is no such relation between Poverty and crime, nor do they have anything between unemployment and crime. We all have socialised by this norm in mind that when poor do not get an employment that turn to crimes. This is not the case. When a  poor doesn’t get employment they turn to different options like Labour, intense labour, if not in one city then other city. By relating poverty with crime, we show our insensitivity. We are upto this for a long time and we have been doing this. There are several such stories and cases in the heart of Indore where human rights have been violated like a norm. I will try to bring them out.

Till then what do we need? A city which lives. A city which is prosperous. Long Live the Inclusion. Long Live an Inclusive City.

Ankit Jha: I am a Social Worker at Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) and has done Masters in Social Work from Delhi School of Social Work, University of Delhi. I was a founding member of Ambedkar Memorial Lecture Committee at DSSW and Co-editor of I write on the issue of Land Rights and Forest Rights.

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