The hapless inhabitants of Kondli had no water supply for a week. So they complained. And when nothing happened they protested and took the law in their own hands. The protesters blocked the road connecting Kondli and Kalyanpuri at about 8.15am.
CHARLES DICKENS described Europe of the period around 1789 in ‘The Tale Of Two Cities’: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”. In short, the period was so far like the present period.
I am describing ‘Kondli’ a Dharawi of Delhi which most probably lies in NCR region. The time is 21st century and India is a sovereign, socialist, secular republic. Someone has said that there are people who never seem to break free of poverty. Neither do their children, nor their grandchildren and their parents were poverty struck as well. They are born to poverty and it seems like it is their heritage, one that they can never shed; a curse unto seven generations. The problem of the underclass is an old one. It is a death spiral which seems impossible to escape.
The hapless inhabitants of Kondli had no water supply for a week. So they complained. And when nothing happened they protested and took the law in their own hands. The protesters blocked the road connecting Kondli and Kalyanpuri at about 8.15am. They soon started pelting the police as well as passing vehicles with stones.
“Initially, there were about 150 protesters, but once they became violent, others joined in, leading to a riot-like situation. Though additional forces were called in from nearby, the protesters refused to budge and kept throwing stones at the police. After some of our men were injured, we had to resort to a lathi-charge,” a police officer said.
However, the locals claimed they were protesting peacefully, and it was the police who started the violence. “We were sitting on dharna demanding water as there has been no supply for around ten days. But the police started cane-charging us,” said Vinod Gautam, a local resident.
Locals complained that the police picked up innocent local residents for the protests. “They took away my sons saying they had assaulted policemen, but they were not at fault,” said one Krishna Devi. “They have detained innocent people instead of catching the culprits,” said Munni Khatoon. There is nothing new in this story.
In our beloved motherland we have the people who are the richest in the world and we have the swimming pools in Star Hotel and on the ninth floor of palatial houses. We have the shopping malls where the poor can’t dare to step in though they are not brutally told so – they know they don’t belong there.
Every tragedy may not have an iota of comedy in it but some often have. A tricycle cart of banana was looted by the protestors on the spot. A poor looted the poor. Does it go against common sense or logic? Unanimous verdict of civilised society was. It is an act of vandalism goondagardi. Poor have no sense of values. They have no principles and they are cheaters they deserve it. If only they had more discipline, if only they didn’t marry young, or do drugs, or have so many children, if only they stayed in school and got a better education their lot could have been better. If only they did things the way the middle and upper classes did, if only, well, they wouldn’t be poor.