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Yamuna Gently Weeps


"I object to violence because when it appears to be good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." - Mahatma Gandhi.

Yamuna Gently Weeps is the story of one of the biggest and oldest slums in Delhi and in India, called Yamuna Pushta. A slum that gave shelter to 1,50,000 people and which nurtured more than 40,000 homes. A world within a world existed in Yamuna Pushta.

In 2004, the slum was viciously demolished, in a matter of weeks, leaving children, old people, pregnant women, those ailing and bed ridden, to the mercy of the streets or on a


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.

Author's voice
"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 even religion."

People's voices
"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 years?"

"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 thirst."

"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 us."

"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 lawlessness."

"Mahatma Gandhi fought for our freedom against the British. Who is to fight for our justice and freedom from these politicians?"

"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 us."

"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 the sun."

"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."

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