© Prodip Chandra
“We have no other demands. We just want to stay here permanently with our community and our culture,” said Vikky Raaj, who is of Telegu origin and a resident of the 14 number Outfall colony in Jatrabari’s Dhalpur. During a press conference at Jatiya Press Club yesterday, Vikky, who could not hold his tears while talking in front of journalists, said this colony is their sole identity.
“Even our NIDs(National Identity Card) have been made with the colony’s address,” he said. Eight rights organisations, along with the Telegu speaking Community in Dhalpur currently living amidst the fear of eviction by Dhaka South City Corporation(DSCC), organised the press conference. The organisations are – ‘Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad’, ‘Nijera Kori’, ‘Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB)’, ‘Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (Blast)’, ‘Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela)’, ‘Ain O Salish Kendra’, ‘Manobadhikar Shongskriti Foundation’ and ‘Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD)’.
“When we came here, it was only garbage. We made a community out of it, and now the city corporation wants to take it away. For what crime are we being punished, mayor?” asked Ram Namma, another resident of the colony.
Leaders of the organisations placed a seven-point demand at the conference. They demanded a clear announcement by DSCC not to evict the Telegu community from their colony at Dhalpur without proper rehabilitation. This rehabilitation will also be permanent, with all the necessary legal documents of the land handed over to them. They also demanded that the community school not be evicted and run under government patronisation as per the National Education Policy.
They made the same demands for the temple and two churches in the colony. Other demands included making members of the Telegu community a priority when it comes to the jobs of garbage management workers, accommodation for all members of the community regardless of their employment status with DSCC and stopping the threats of eviction from DSCC or the police. Prof Robayet Ferdous of mass communication and journalism at Dhaka University; Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad; and Kajal Debnath, presidium member of the organisation, also spoke. Shamsul Huda, executive director of ALRD, moderated the conference.