Nagpur Today was the only media to come out with the story of the destruction and death of 3 decades old Harinath Saoji, Laxman Saoji and other small business establishments that were brought crashing down yesterday afternoon.
It is true, their ‘Landlord’ who was himself a tenant of the parcel of land on which these business’ stood had lost the case in both High court and Supreme court.
It is true that the Builder, who is going to build a super luxurious, super expensive complex here pretty soon was accompanied by a Baillif who had the required orders for vacating the plots.
Our case was to ask how justice and fair play are served when small business’ who have been paying rent regularly and in whose eyes their rent-agreement with their landlord was valid and legal, are thrown out on the street without a single hour’s notice?
They have been conducting their business complying with all local rules. It is not just the owner’s means of livelihood but also the poor people who are employed therein as cooks, waiters and others.
When deciding on who gets to ‘own this land’ should the views and status of present day occupants not matter?
Or is there something else at play here?
When we were on the spot yesterday, being a witness to this destruction, many questions came to mind –
1-Though their power connection was disconnected, why was the ‘illegal landlord’ spared his house though it was also in the disputed area?
2-While establishements on his either side were being pulled down, their house was left intact.
This man, knowing he has lost the case in the Supreme court also, was still collecting rent from his hapless ‘tenants’ right till this May! Should the law enforcement agencies/ courts not make him pay back this illegal collection?
3-From a humanitarian perspective, can the baillif or police not give time to people caught in the cross fire to save their assets and their movable properties at least?
Or as often happens in such cases, was a ‘deal’ brokered between Builder, old tenant and some powerful local politician to get this land cleared?
As it happens, this plot of at least 5 acres also stands on the Ambazari lake side. It will be sold at a premium as apartments that are ‘lake facing’ – but can a commercial huge complex be allowed to come up so close to a water body?
All these questions are moot today.
The people who were rudely uprooted yesterday and who till 4 in the afternoon were vowing to “not go away quietly” are gone and huge boards are coming up to seclude the place from public gaze.
When the boards come down, a building for the rich and elite would have come up… who cares where Harinath now puts up his Saoji restaurant or where Shankar, who worked here till yesterday finds employment now?