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'Why are we being treated worse than terrorists?'

Last updated on: June 20, 2014 17:23 IST

'Why are we being treated worse than terrorists?'

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Hitesh Harisinghani in Mumbai

When Rajiv Chawla bought his flat at Worli's Campa Cola compound 23 years ago, he didn’t know it was illegal. “I have paid the property tax and the registration fees, and I am not going to let go of my house so easily,” he says. He is one of the residents who have blocked the entry to the compound by locking up the gates and forming human barricades for the officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation who had come in force to cut water, power and piped gas supply to the illegal flats. Hitesh Harisinghani  reports from the Campa Cola compound

Sonam Garg, one of the residents of the illegal flats that now faces certain demolition, alleges that the police have been harassing her family.

“We belong to a good family,” she says. “Why do we have to beg people not to throw us out from our own houses? Campa Cola ke ache din kab aayenge? (When will the Campa Cola residents see good times?).

Garg, who quit her job 16 months ago, says that her husband has not returned home for the last five days fearing arrest.

She, along with others, has formed a barricade at the entrance and is preventing the police and the BMC officials from entering the premises. “Why are we being treated worse than terrorists?” another resident who refuses to be named asks. She is well into her 60s but has been at the gate since early morning.

“It is the BMC's fault, she says, why should we pay for their mistake?”

“The BMC and the chief minister were supposed to come up with a solution for us. Are they still sleeping?” she asks angrily.

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Image: Residents block the entry to the Campa Cola compound by locking up the gates and forming human barricades
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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Vijay Mirani stays in Midtown, an apartment building that also faces demolition.

“All we are asking the chief minister and the BMC to do is come up with a solution within the jurisdiction. I am a law-abiding citizen but I will not vacate the house purchased from my life savings.”

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Image: Police officials outside the Campa Cola compound
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'Why are we being treated worse than terrorists?'

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When Rajiv Chawla bought his flat 23 years ago, he didn’t know the flats were illegal. He insists that he will continue fighting for as long as he can.

“I have paid the property tax and the registration fees, and I am not going to let go of my house so easily.”

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Image: Rajiv Chawla, who bought his flat 23 years ago.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani
Tags: Chawla

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"It took the court six years to sentence 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab, and they passed our judgement in two-and-a-half-years? That is very quick indeed!” Rajiv Mehta, another resident, says incredulously.

Then he looks away in despair as his fellow residents beg BMC officials to stop.


Image: Residents block entry of the BMC officials and raise slogans
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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