Politics, misery and hope: Life in informal settlements amid NRC scare

Slums high rises in Bengaluru
On a complaint from people in the high-rises, around a 100 slum dwellings were razed in Bengaluru in January | Image - Prathap Ravishankar | All photos by Prabhu Mallikarjunan

Away from the hustle and bustle of Bengaluru’s IT corridor, a sense of gloom pervades the informal settlement in Kariyammana Agrahara. At the edge of several rows of shanties built with tin and plywood, Akbor Ali Choudhury’s hut lies razed. Built on private land, his hut — overlooking a gated community of high-rises with clubs and swimming pool — had been his home for a year.

Akbor’s hut and about 100 others were demolished by the civic authorities simply because some residents in the high-rises suspected the presence of illegal Bangladeshis. While the police and the civic authorities had no proof to claim they were from Bangladesh, they acted on a complaint from the Residents’ Association of the high-rises. It turned out that many residents were not illegal migrants but from states like Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and even from other parts of Karnataka.

Akbor (23) hails from Assam’s Hailakandi district, a hilly region bordering Bangladesh. Lack of employment in his hometown brought him to Bengaluru, where he found a job as a housekeeping staff in a hotel chain for ₹10,000 a month.

He says the police warned them orally to vacate the premises but did not give any reason.

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