A colony of Telugu-speaking Hindus in Dhaka has been ordered to vacate, leaving hundreds of families in panic. Several organizations, including the Human Rights Foundation, Human Rights Culture Foundation, and Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Parishad, have expressed deep concern and protest against the eviction order of the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). Aggrieved Telugu families, including some Christians too, recently held a protest against this government eviction.
Telugu-speaking Hindu families have been living in that colony for several generations. But now DSCC plans to build accommodations and workshops there for City Corporation employees. However, rejecting the allegation of forced eviction, the DSCC said that the people of the Telugu-speaking Hindu community will be relocated elsewhere.
A few days ago, the police came to clear sweeper colony number 14 of Jatrabari Dhalpur in Dhaka and ordered that they have to vacate this colony before February 12. Areas surrounding this area, known as Dhalpur Basti, were also ordered to be evacuated earlier.
Yaramsetty Venkatesh, a resident of Telugu Colony, said, “When other areas have been told to vacate, we have not heard the name of this colony.” But on the 8th, we were told that we too had to leave. Now, where do we go? “We have nowhere to go; we can’t even afford to build a new house.”
All the buildings in the surrounding area of this sweeper colony except one mosque have been demolished. The workers employed by the City Corporation are working to remove the bricks of the broken building from there. According to senior resident Karti Deramma, their ancestors were brought here from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in Bharat hundreds of years ago with the assurance of settlement. Since then, they have been working as cleaning workers for generations.
In the middle of the 19th century, the British government brought these Telugu-speaking Hindus to this territory from the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana regions of Bharat for various jobs. Since then, they have been living in this land.
During Bangladesh’s liberation war, members of this community were also subjected to torture by Pakistani forces for being Hindus. Muktyala Ramana was injured by the bullets of Pakistani forces. Showing bullet marks on his body, he says that even after so many years of independence, he still has no permanent residence.
Members of this community say they don’t mind moving if the government or the city corporation settles them elsewhere. But no one is giving them that assurance. Thousands of residents from 130 families in this colony are terrified by the threats of the corporation and the police.
The situation there can be seen on the ground, where many of the victimised Hindus have packed their belongings due to the demolition of their houses. They are moving around with panicked faces. They have seen their residences being razed to the ground in front of their eyes by government bulldozers. Although the local city corporation talked about rehabilitation, in reality, activists claim that no proper rehabilitation was given to these Telugu-speaking Hindus.