Several organisations participated in a protest action outside the Supreme Court in Delhi on July 3, 2006, under the banner of "Stop Evictions Campaign". This was the opening day of the Supreme Court after its summer recess. The protest was part of an on-going campaign to defend the rights of the working and poor people of Delhi.
In the name of implementing the Delhi Master Plan, the right to livelihood and shelter of the people of Delhi has been brutally attacked in recent months. Tens of thousands of working people living in slums have been ruthlessly evicted and rendered homeless, with no proper alternative plan for their resettlement. Many resettlement colonies have been threatened with immediate eviction. Middle class residential areas have been attacked in the name of ‘removing illegal constructions’. In the name of ‘removing commercial establishments in residential areas’, small shopkeepers and traders have been forced to close down their shops. Hawkers and vendors have been declared illegal. Cycle rickshaws have been banned in various parts of the city. Meanwhile, big Indian and foreign multinationals are being given all kinds of concessions to take over land and build massive shopping malls and complexes. These attacks have been come in the form of orders of the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court, executed by the Delhi Development Authority and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. The two major political parties, the Congress Party which runs the government in Delhi and the BJP which is in the opposition, have both been tacitly supporting these moves, while making some sporadic noises so as to not lose out on their vote banks, and at the same time they are claiming ‘helplessness’ before the orders of the court.
The residents of the slums and resettlement colonies of Delhi, the small shopkeepers and traders and others affected have been valiantly fighting back against these attacks. Lok Raj Sangathan has been in the forefront of these struggles. In some cases, such as in the case of Transit Camp, a resettlement colony in South Delhi , the 4 day long chakka jam and 2 day fast led by Lok Raj Sangathan succeeded in temporarily stalling the eviction plans of the DDA. Faced with this persistent struggle of the people, the government has been forced to bring in the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2006, which declares a one-year moratorium on demolitions and evictions in Delhi .
Since mid-May, LRS and various other organisations have been working together to develop ways to organise the residents in various colonies under attack to take up the struggle for their rights. The action on July 3 was one step in this struggle. Prominent lawyers, human rights activists, academicians, social workers, trade unionists participated in the action, reflecting the broad, developing opposition, to the demolition drive.
Prominent among the organisations which took part in the July 3 action in front of Supreme Court were Abhudyaya, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, AIFTU, Action Aid, Action Aid – Bawana, Aman Trust, Ankur, Amnesty International, Bal Vikas Dhara, Bhalswa Lok Shakti Manch, Cacim, Chintan, Delhi Forces, Delhi Forum, Dilli Shramik Sanghthan, Disha, Housing and Land Rights Network, Harit Recyclers Association, Hazards Centre, Hawkers Maulik Adhikar Suraksha Manch, Human Rights Law Network, Jagriti Manch, Jagori, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Indian Social Institute, Indcare, ITDP, Labour League Foundation, Lok Raj Sanghthan, Mobile Creches, Navjyoti Development Society, Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam, Parivartan, Peoples’ Education, Prasar, Sathi for All Partnership, INSAF, Sanjay Colony Sangharsh Samiti, Navjeevan…, Shankar Ramaswami, Amita Baviskar, Sneh Bandhan Society, Satark Nagrik Sanghthan, Sruti, Social Jurist and Workers Solidarity. Eminent individuals who participated in the action and came out in support of the poor working population of Delhi included Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, noted writer and social activist Arundhati Roy, Sanjay Srivastava, Malavika Vartak and Ashok Aggarwal.
The protestors condemned the attacks on the working poor of Delhi in order to benefit the big capitalist monopolies and demanded that people’s concerns should be at the centre of any master plan made for the city. They criticised the anti-working people judgements of the Supreme Court and the brutality with which the MCD authorities had attacked the helpless slum dwellers. They insisted that the working people of this city should be involved in making decisions about how the city should be re-organised, so that proper housing, electricity and water supply, sanitation, health care, education and transport services, which are our right, should be easily accessible to all.
Explaining the goal of the struggle, the representative of Lok Raj Sangathan said that " Our goal is to ensure Constitutional guarantees of human rights with enforcing mechanisms, including the right to life and livelihood – which includes the right to housing. It is the duty of the state to guarantee security and prosperity to all members of society." Denouncing the attacks on the working people in the name of the ‘Master Plan’, he boldly declared that “M aster Plans for the development of our cities cannot be designed to fulfil the aspirations of finance capital and multinationals. They cannot be premised on the destruction and violation of the rights of the working people. The Master Plan for the development of Delhi must reflect our concerns and respect our rights. During the coming year, we will mobilize the entire working population of Delhi to demand that our visions and suggestions for alternatives be the basis for the Delhi Master Plan."