barren piece of land, bereft of home,
shelter, water, electricity and a source of livelihood.
The author, present throughout the
demolition process, as well as a witness to the heartlessness of those in power, through
interviews with slum dwellers and politicians; eminent town planners, environmentalists
and activists; as well as through the eyes of those who lost it all, tells a heartrending
tale, of tears, courage, determination and most importantly, brings to light, the
hollowness of the system and all that, which once was held, sacred and beyond reproach.
"My heart goes to all those whose homes and shops came under the bulldozers. For
me, a home is a home, however fancy or humble the four walls may be. Spare a thought for
lakhs of our extremely poor brethren, who have no place to go and no one to turn to. Who
are used and abused by the politicians and the authorities, as they are simple people, by
nature trusting, and have nobody else to look up to but those in the governance."
"Spare a thought for the poor,
who have been forced to come to the city, in search of survival; those who spend their
lives, serving and making our lives so much more comfortable; who ask not much, but a
little space, to live a life with dignity and stability, and, not forever be judged as
outcast and the damned."
"While working on the film and
this book, I came across poverty, squalor, tears, helplessness, frustration, anger and ill
health but not once did I come across any communal tension or disharmony. The people
living in Yamuna Pushta had the common sense and the wisdom, that this was a political
move and an electoral chess move, and had nothing to do with religion. Each one realized
that blood may be thicker than water but political greed was thicker than blood, water and
"Doesn't the Court realize what the poor are going through and what is the best
for the poor of this country?"
"Why are they destroying our
lives and sending us to a place that has no scope of livelihood, no education and no
medical facilities? Why are you sending us to a place that is going to be a hundred times
worse than this place? Where is the sense in all this? You are not removing poverty but
removing the poor from your sight."
"Rajiv Gandhi, V. P. Singh,
Sheila Dikshit, H. K. L. Bhagat, K. C. Pant, Ram Vilas Paswan, all have come here and
assured us that our homes will be safe."
"Why let us build our homes and
dreams, if you are going to bulldoze them to the ground after twenty or thirty
"his step of the Government has
broken our hearts and spirit. The Government is forcing us to once again live in the
jungles and ruin our children's future."
"We don't want to go back to
such acts, but if forced, we will once again become dacoits."
"The Government is not bothered
how we live after our homes are demolished. Whether we live or die, whether we live on the
streets or without shelter, they are not bothered."
"We don't mind being shifted to
another place, but at least make sure that the place has amenities for our children and
that we can earn some livelihood. This is all we ask."
"They want to shift us to some
wasteland. How am I going to survive in a place like that?"
"I do not have a man at home.
For a single mother, such a shift is cruel."
"What do the authorities expect
us to survive on; by eating mud?"
"Why don't they just bomb this
place and kill us all, once and for all."
"We are dying of hunger and
"The Government has selected
the worst possible place to dump us poor people. It is exactly thirty-six kilometers away
from the main city and away from schools, hospitals and worst of all, away from our
livelihood. If the Government had to displace us or shift us, they could have chosen some
place closer to the schools and our livelihood. We can understand a distance of ten to
twelve kilometers but a distance of thirty-six kilometers is like a death sentence to
"We live surrounded by a jungle
where there is no medical facility, no schools, and no proper transport system."
"Which law in our land, says
that, children should be allowed to suffer in such heat, this isn't law. This is
"Mahatma Gandhi fought for our
freedom against the British. Who is to fight for our justice and freedom from these
"We are like street dogs,
neither belonging to any home nor is anybody willing to take responsibility for us."
"Now, only God can take care of
"Because the homes of poor were
destroyed, even the sky began to cry and it has rained in summer."
"They have made our lives, our
poverty and our helplessness into some kind of a joke."
"The plots they have given us
aren't fit to construct and kind of homes."
"My home was getting bulldozed
and my child got pneumonia."
"The option at the moment is,
sit in your homes and drown or sit on the road and get either wet by the rains or burnt by
"Over here everybody is very
worried and disturbed. It rained and this whole place become flooded. We all are going
through lots of hardship. This place stinks a lot and also at night, mosquitoes really
harass us. There is no place to go and study too."
"They are charging us money to
use the bathroom and for washing our clothes. We cannot afford it. They have also not made
any ground where we can go and play. Also there is no hospital. My mother is sick and
there is no place to take her."
"Our small children have died
during demolition and there was nobody to help us. Our homes were burnt and bulldozed and
nobody came to help us."