GBGB: First Convention at Azad Maidan - 4
Duration: 00:35:33; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 336.250; Saturation: 0.065; Lightness: 0.489; Volume: 0.327; Cuts per Minute: 23.931; Words per Minute: 125.984
Summary: On June 2nd 2008 , thousands of urban poor of Mumbai representing more than 7000 members of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan converged at Azad Maidan to participated in the first convention of the Andolan. Women in large numbers and in majority, attended the convention that began at noon went on till 7 p.m. to discuss and strategise on issues ranging from right to housing to the encroachments of the elite, right to basic services including water, health, education and food, and the obstacles in realising the same. The Convention had attendance of unorganised sector workers, slum dwellers, fish workers, hawkers, and infrastructure project affected persons.
The convention was inaugurated by Justice (Retd.) Suresh H, and addressed by Laxman Gaikwad-leader of the Denotified Tribes, Medha Thatte (Shramik Mahila Sangathan, Pune), Neera Adarkar(Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti), Shailesh Gandhi(NCPRI) Right to Information Activist, Shaktiman Ghosh(National Hawkers' Federation), Seemantani Dhuru(Avehi-Right to Education Campaign), Adv. Shakeel Ahmed, Neha(CEHAT), Anand Patwardhan (Documentary Maker), Sambaji Bhagat (Cultural Activist), Medha Patkar (Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan- NAPM, NBA) and others.
Offscreen: (The screen is blank. Neera Adarkar is speaking).
Neera Adarkar: Did they say or not? Then they should deliver what they had promised. Then the 2,ooo/- they had spent has not been paid back by them.
Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao
Anand Patwardhan: What it is we do not know. There is no one here because of whom there is communalism in our country. The ones who promote communalism do not stay in hutments. They are affluent people who do that and they know that by doing so they will be able to be stable. So that's why I do not want to say anything about that to you. I will discuss that later with you. So now, there are many other sitting here who will talk to you.
Sambhaji Bhagat: After the song ... they will talk about important things. So, I will request you that you may please listen to this song. Just as Anand now told what kind of a thing communalism is, this song is about communalism. Just as now they said that everyone should get a house, what the builders are doing...
Sambhaji Bhagat: In the country, those who cause communal riots, those who cause a divide amongst the people, cause rifts, and who then demolish houses, this song is about those people. That, who are these people.
Sambhaji Bhagat: (Sings): These friends of Hitler, the paraders in a funeral (Twice). They don't ask people who are you? They ask about religion and caste.
Recognize them my brother.
Be careful of them O brother! (Twice)
2nd verse: You will make a mistake and then repent.
It is the age of oppressors.
Thieves and burglars are sitting...(not here, he says in an aside)
Thieves and burglars are sitting. Big bosses are sitting. (Twice).
3rd verse: Some are sitting in Delhi.
Where are they sitting? (Audience): In Delhi! Some are sitting in Delhi.
And some? Some are sitting in Mumbai. (Twice).
There are discussions about Ram.
There are discussions about Rahim.
There are discussions about differences.
There are discussions about Quran.
There are discussions about Purana.
We are drowned in the story of Ram. We are drowned in the feats of Ram.
In our place where would Ram and Rahim earn their daily bread?
Big miscreants are sitting my brother.
Who are sitting? (Audience): Miscreants!
Sambhaji Bhagat: Do you understand what a miscreant means?
White Kurta: You have to meet them everyday. But they are small time miscreants. The big ones are sitting in high places. (Sings) Big miscreants are sitting my brother.
Big sellers are sitting my brother.
4th verse: They are sitting in Lok Sabha my brother.
Where are they sitting? (Audience): Lok Sabha! You know where Lok Sabha is? (Audience): In Delhi! You all know quite a lot. They are sitting in Loksabha my brother.
And? They are sitting in Vidhan Sabha my brother.
They are on the internet my brother.
They are sitting on jumbo jets my brother.
And we are sitting on empty stomachs my brother.
At the gates of Azad Maidan we sit!
We are sitting on dry fields my brother.
We are sitting on a hopeless life.
5th verse: We are sitting in a gathering my brother.
We are in the company of saints my brother.
We are in the colours of Asaram my brother.
We are in the company of saints my brother.
Sambhaji Bhagat: When we switch on the TV in the morning, an old man appears on the TV, he says, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.
I thought, someone who is scared out of his wits already, how will he breathe! These saints like Asaram, Aniruddha are lousy.
They don't steal money and don't pick pockets, they make our brains numb.
And once your brains become numb, inspite of having eyes, you can't see. He has a mouth, but he can't speak. He has ears, but he can't listen. Because, he has no mind. For thousands of years, as we are mindless, we are not united. Thousands of people say in their speeches that we lost this and that. But, why did we lose it?
Sambhaji Bhagat: Till we are Hindus and Muslims, we cannot become united. Vilasrao Deshmukh knows this. That's why he is sitting quietly in an A/C. He knows that these people won't become united. Because these people are ruled by caste and religion. And these rifts are vast. And who widens these rifts? These saints like Asaram and Aniruddha. I have been to all their gatherings. You must also be going to these gatherings. I do go, but I don't go there to be fooled. I go there to listen. All these babas, all these matajis say only one thing. They say, look within you, look within you... what should I look at? Within there are intestines! Within there are burgers, there is smoke of cigarettes, and smell of alcohol. There is nothing. Look within means don't look outside. Bulldozer comes which demolishes these huts and goes. Don't look there. Children are dying of hunger, don't look there. Look within, look within...
Sambhaji Bhagat: Some ministers were sitting. Now I am a ordinary man. No one recognized me. There, Satya Saibaba took off his gold ring and gave it. He was taking off his watch of gold and giving it. He was taking off his bracelet of gold and giving it. I said, 'Respected baba, you are a very amazing man. It is a very great thing that you take off all the gold from your hand. Please come with us, come to our settlements. 40% people sleep on empty stomachs in this country. Come to our settlements and give some rotis, some salads, some biryani. So, a man sitting next to him said, what are you saying? Baba is an amazing man! Once when he was travelling by a car, his car stopped as there was no petrol in it. Then, baba who is an amazing man took a bucket, poured water in it, rolled his finger on it and it transformed into petrol! Then when he put it into a car the car started working.
Sambhaji Bhagat: I said, O what an amazing man! Great! Satya Sai Baba! You are a great man! What are you doing over here? Come with me. Then he got scared. Where is he taking me? Then I said, when you touch water, it turns into petrol. Then our country is surrounded by sea on three sides, and one of them is the Arabian Sea which is near Mumbai. I will take you and throw you in the Arabian Sea. The whole sea will be converted into petrol. And we will give petrol to America. We will give petrol to Dubai.
Sambhaji Bhagat: (Sings): In the company of saints, in the company of Asaram, in the language of Satya Sai Baba, in the hope of the age of truth, in the Silicon valley is the market of Sita and Ram. We are sitting on Wall Street and have turned into an army of vanars.
2nd verse: We die fighting and we do acting. They do setting. Do you know what setting is? (Audience): Yes! So you know.. you must have also gone into setting sometime. The setting which happens on the first day of elections. They do setting and we do voting.
Sambhaji Bhagat: Now I won't sing because I haven't hear sister Medha's speech for many days and I want to hear her speech. You too want to hear it. These song will go on. How did you find it?
(Audience): Very good!
So if you want to fight against the question of your hutments then first you should do away with this poison of religion, caste and creed that is in your minds. That's what I and brother Anand work for.
Brown shirt: As it has been written here, this is not some pandal for marriage, this is not a mandap for nikaah. This is a mandap of war. We are going to call out for war from here. There is no water here. There is no house. Inflation is on such a rise that probably there will be no food tomorrow. It was also said that...amongst workers... be it a worker in Mumbai, or a worker in Thane district, be it a worker of Maharashtra, I am an employee working in the union amongst all workers. We are seeing, that inflation is increasing to such an extent and our income is decreasing day by day.
Brown shirt: I was talking to sister Medha right now, that why are all the struggles happening separately? All those who are fighting should come together. Out there, our friends of the March Communist Party are sitting in a different pandal. Here, under the leadership of sister Medha this mandap has been put up. They say, that who forms India? Some people say India was formed by Mahatma Gandhi. Some people say that Jawaharlal Nehru formed it. These builders say that, that is history. Now this India if being formed by us, the builders. That's their daring. If we have to fight them then we should give a hard fight and with a lot of strength.
(Audience: We are united!).
Brown shirt: Everyone should raise their hands. People are standing but atleast raise your hands.
The power of music has come in response to which we have to say that it has brought in a new light. Because through the medium of music we have just understood a lot. Sir just told us a lot of things that have opened our mind.
Slogan: The power of music has arrived!
Audience: It has brought a new light! [Twice]
Slogan: Raise your voice
Audience: We are one!
Slogan: We will fight!
Audience: We will win! [Twice]
Medha Patkar: Are some people doubtful? Is there any doubt? This is such a time that all of us... with a lot of hardwork... it isn't the question of light and shade... but against so many forces... with such strong unity we have to challenge them and make a promise. And crossing so many boundaries all of us have come here today. And inspite of such a threatening atmosphere of the domination of builders, we are ready to challenge everyone, so our unity is our strength and it is the basis of our movement. So, very loudly,
Slogan: Raise your voice
Audience: We are one! [Twice].
Very good. By this sound itself the sleep of the builders must have gotten disturbed. Yes, that's why you must surely say, because today while we are sitting here, that time in the Peru Chawl of Lalbaug has been burnt down by a builder. That's why he must be feeling that our hearts are on fire today, our minds are on fire today. Thinking and understanding the fact, that on this land of Mumbai the ones who stay are of a stable mind, but the ones who rule have lost their mind and hence other than challenging them, there is no other way.
Medha Patkar: Slogan: Residents of Peru Chawl go ahead!
Audience: We are with you!
Who else do we have to be with? We have to be with each slum dweller. We are very weak. Each sister who comes crying and says that I am still on the edge of a sewer, that I am unable to handle my child, a widowed mother cannot do the operation of her daughter alone... then we are not people who have a treasure of money and are distributing it. How did we give this vada pav today? By your strength and support. Then it is decided that we fall short at times. Then too this movement has a resolution which brother Anand will give us later on. But a resolution should be engraved on the minds of each of us: That on this land of Mumbai, whatever and how much ever may be the right of those working hard and sweating it out, that right will be taken by us for sure.
(Audience shouts slogans).
Medha Patkar: This was the meeting of ours in which after the meeting people of Rafiz Nagar had come. Brother Siraj and sister Hafisa was also with them. People of Sanjay Nagar were also with them. They said that tomorrow our houses are going to be demolished. Here, what will happen after the meeting? Like today we have decided about Lalbaug, everyone decided that after the meeting we will reach Rafiz Nagar. That whole night we made plans and the next day in the morning we reached Rahiz Nagar and broke the wires. And Rafiz nagar, even today, after fighting a lot, going to mandals, is where it was. The sewer on the border of Sanjay Nagar, which was teeming with dirt... Sanjay Kamble of Latur was called... I don't know if he was called, I had to go... but he came up with a new technique for disposing garbage and he was called here to demonstrate.
Medha Patkar: It is a very big success. But today, don't know which builder or politician is scheming to devastate him. We will have to tell each child in the form of an exam about their pairing up. Match the colums child which builder.. Lakdawala, Divad, Akruti or some other. With which corporator are they? Match the colums. So, in Ambujwadi, it's the same situation.
We were there day before yesterday till midnight. That time we saw that not just the sewer, but not a single piece of land would be left of Deor trees which is owned by our fishermen. But there if they have schemed to destroy Ambujwadi, then we don't need the police, all the brothers and sisters of Ambujwadi... here Nirmala is sitting here... all will stand up and challenge them.
Medha Patkar: Even she has her clutches ready. They have their eye on their land. And the government of Maharashtra is challenging this Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan. For that land of Mandala, at the rate of 40 rupees/acre the beautiful bungalows of Hiranandani which look ugly and corrupt to us.. for that when the government gave them land.. when the people of Mandala are ready to give 40 rupees/acre, then give them land on lease for 80 years the way they had given Hiranandani. For what are you clapping?
Medha Patkar: They have withdrawn money from that cheque but they have not given any answer till now. So you see, everyone is eyeing money. But they don't have their eye on the realities of these sisters who are poor, widowed, dalits, in less number, some have come from Satara and Sangali, some have come from their very district Latur. People are coming from there in large numbers post the year 2000. They properly eyed the cheque. And the administration took Rs. 2000/- very promptly.
(Slogan): Push, the opportunity is there. Politics is cheating!.
Medha Patkar: That which the Central government is accepting, but MHADA which has made just 90 houses in a year, whose reality brother Maju has revealed in front of everyone... only 90 not even 100! They didn't complete a century also. But the institution of the government MHADA which has made 90 houses in a year, they cannot make it and they are not even agreeing with us on that. So do we have to fight for that or not? (Audience: We will have to fight!) Netaji nagar where they are putting mud from all sides and not land, which was made by Nazma at some point, which was made by Salim at some point, which was made by brother Ravindra Gaikwad at some point, but today, by putting mud they are trying to drown Mumbai... the municipality which we used to call 'Ulti Party' (The wrong party). (Laughter). And nobody is focussed on this matter. Mumbai is sleeping., But those who put mud in Mithi river, are not the people of Netaji Nagar. They are... aunty knows it... they are those builders and their contracted engineers. And that's why we have to give them a fight too. Which all places should I mention? Everywhere where there are settlements, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan repeats their pledge* and we all constitute the movement. Alone brother Simpreet does not constitute the movement.
Medha Patkar: Movement is not about a house, its not a destination and it cannot be a gathering also. Movement is about a desire and a motivation. It is a perspective and a dream. It is a fight for a change which never gets over. The gunshots braved by the women from Narmada to Nandigram can never be forgotten, may the flags be of any colour, be it even blood. So if this is our strength, then whoever is sitting anywhere, gather all your neighbours and friends, and wherever there is an attack.. today the government of Congress and Rashtravadi is here then they will attack. In Orrisa, Patnaik Sir's government is doing it. In Chattisgarh, BJP government is doing it. In West Bengal, the Communist government is doing it. We all are watching it. We are sad. It's like a big shock. But we all are watching it just like Mahabharat. We do not know who will be standing in front of us and when. But whoever will be standing, we will challenge him against justice, in favour of justice and against justice. We will fight to challenge him and win.
Slogan: We will fight!
Audience: We will win! (Twice).
So here in Mumbai..
Medha Patkar: So this is the strength made by all the people in the settlements of Mumbai. It can prove to be far more dangerous power than the power of voting. Politics gets shaken by this. The women of Nandigram have won again. All the panchayats in the district have been wiped off by them. They have gained a grip on their village again. They are still sad and they are still being tortured but they are still giving a fight. So are our women (here) any less than the women of Nandigram? So, that's the thing. Where there are people alive who say 'Zindabad' from now on however that settlement may be- broken and demolished- it is beyond caste, creed and religion. We should not allow that beautiful picture to be tainted. Is this the pledge of all?
(Audience: It is a pledge!).
So wherever there is an uprooted settlement, when we will capture it is also something to be thought of in the programme.
Medha Patkar: I had given him a letter that I don't want to meet today. I just want that you should decide on all points with all the authorities and ministers. After hours of debate, whatever may be your decision, tell us that so that we are free to go ahead. So from this Azad Maidan we are announcing this freedom that by the 30th of June... now he has said time and again 'I am telling you... I am telling you...my secretary is saying...' So, ok the Prime Minister is saying... that between the 25th and 27th of June one day all our ten friends will sit there which will include street peddlers, which will also include those from the demolished settlements of Cotton Green and Reay Road... Demolished on the name of Mahatma Phule... Some demolished in the lanes made on the name of Sanjay Gandhi... some demolished in Mandala... people from each place should be there and there should be a discussion for hours together. And we will ask for answers on each of these points. But we will not keep quiet till then. But that time if you don't answer us, then we will go ahead with the challenge facing us, even if it starts to rain. Are you ready?
(Audience: Yes, we are ready!).
So, there are not many days- not for the rains and not for the movement too.
Medha Patkar: I would now bring your attention to this issue. Second thing, today, in this issue of land, we have published a booklet. Each one has to take that booklet. I don't know if they are charging one or two rupees or they are distributing it for free. If they are charging one or two rupees or whatever may be the price of publication I don't know. Then too, you have to take that booklet. Put a nice cover on it the way kids do it in school, that way. Because it mentions who the enroachers in Mumbai are. Look carefully at the poster put up here. Atria shopping mall, the seven storeyed building at Tardeo, the game played by the three contractors in Tulsiwadi, the reality standing here- all of this is illegal encroachment. Are you looking? You have the courage to hoist your flag on the 60th floor, right? Do you have or you don't?
(Audience: We do!).
So either we will reach the 60th floor, or we will sit on their doorstep. Now we won't let go. Each place where encroachment has taken place and where the government hasn't been able to reach, because it is also included as an encroacher; we will definitely reach there.
Medha Patkar: Now everybody has to keep in mind, take a look at Atria shopping mall while passing by. It is very blingy. But the Mahakali Settlement that borders it, the children there are suffering. The sewer from which flows all the contaminated water of Mumbai, the people of Atria Shopping mall have encroached on that too. And because of that Mumbai will drown! It won't drown because of the coast of Mithi Nagar and Indira Nagar, nor by Netaji Nagar. And so we will have to collaborate with the people of Mahakali Nagar. And they have come with us till Tihar jail. They are very strong. They are not weak, they are jail-returned. And hence, be it Atria Shopping or this 60 storeyed building, all the poor, like Atiq's poem, 'We see their tall palaces, and they can't stand to see our huts.' Understanding that we just don't have to see, we also have to find a way to go. So that our journey which has reached till here will go on till there- Hiranandani Gardens, Atria Shopping mall, 60 storeyed building- each place where there is encroachment. Brother Simpreet...
Medha Patkar: 30, 000 acres which they gave the companies and builders, law was erased that time! Never is this law erased, the 95 law is never erased. They never do that- you will have to go to the court for that, do this and that. But this major law which used to say that how much ever money rich people may have, they may have the money to buy the whole of Mumbai, but they cannot have land more than 544 meters of land. They erased that law of ceiling. So now by the right to information we have asked for everything. But going ahead of this to that point, as Mr. Shirari has said, we have to give one challenge- both lawful and on the field. I won't say much about that.
Medha Patkar: In 4/6 the government of Maharashtra has come up with a GR. We just had a meeting with the Chief Minister and came back. Today we didn't create much of a chaos and go to Mantralaya. Because we hadn't placed any demand. But we went. It was the Chief Minister and we didn't want to insult him. But we have given a couple of papers as a gift and come. We said that discussion will be later and not today and we came. So, this banner of Hawker's Policy of the Organization of Hawkers which has been put up- all the ministers, brother Haider, brother Hussain- have proved this with all the lawful opinions that police have no right to take any bribe in the form of punishment from hawkers. The police officers may better hear this today.
Medha Patkar: So the hawkers also, with all their strength, all their organization... every year 70 crores? It is difficult to count the zeroes in 70 crores of each year. It may be 700 too, we know just 70. It is just a zero doesn't make nay difference. But this issue of collecting bribes, against that... when in Ghatkopar there is one such senior who is working like a kid.
Medha Patkar: What is this law coming up in the state? Just listen a bit. After the discussion of Mandala, it shouldn't be like, now I will leave. The law which is coming up in the country is very important for all. Why are the houses of the poor in dirty settlements near sewers and why are they so poor in quality? Because hardwork is not paid it's price. And because people like politicians and builders don't do thieving and cheating.
Medha Patkar: And those who don't have money in banks, the old people, they should get pension. They should get provident fund. And not only this much. Not like alms. There should be a complete record of his name in the form of his work and of him as an employer. As there is of the government employees.
Medha Patkar: Inflation is also a big issue. And the ration which should be there during inflation, also about that there is no other way than conducting a big programme or movement. There are facilities, it is agreed that there but not everyone has got it as yet. Are you ready?
I am asking again!
(Audience): Yes ! We will lock the office and sit there itself.
(Audience): Yes! Are you ready?
(Audience): Yes. So Mr. Sunil Tatkare and the controller...
Medha Patkar: In our district of Nandumarg, this brother Murji who had to run back now, he is a member of the committee of education. No government was working. He is running 12 schools of our movement of our committee. Life schools have just started in our settlement now. But this work has a long way to go. So the first step will be to go in municipal schools we should inspect them in the new year. Is it right?
What kind of education is going on? It will be scheming to finish off with the teachers there if they will listen to the private schools. But our kids- whether they are getting the material and books of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, how they are getting it, whether they are getting it or not and whether it is working or not- to see all this will a group of women go or not?
(Audience): We will go!
Medha Patkar: You have to keep this in mind and just not listen. (Reads): 'The death of the collectors has come'. After so many years... so it is necessary today that we...the struggle that is there against the Mithi Organization of the (?)... whose proposal was placed here by the Mithi Bachao Sangarsh Samiti... who are before people like Reliance and Diwan... will you be a part of that struggle or not? (Audience): We will! If you will listen then you will be. Are you listening aunty? There those people are going to sit for a fast.