Noted Right to Information (RTI) activist Mr Anil Galgali has accused the Mumbai police of violating the Supreme Court's order not to inhumanely dislocate homeless persons sleeping on pavements in winter. He has also alleged that despite the apex court's order to build 125 night shelters in Mumbai for the homeless, the Maharashtra government has not built any.
Mr Galgali has written to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is in charge of the Home portfolio, and Police Commissioner Mr Vivek Phansalkar to take action against the senior police officials responsible for the failure to implement the SC’s directives.
Spokesperson for the city police and Deputy Commissioner Prashant Kadam declined to comment. Mr Galgali said the SC had, in response to a PIL filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties, ordered chief secretaries of all state governments to implement measures to help the homeless urban poor. The Maharashtra government vide its GR dated December 24, 2021 had directed all district administrations to take appropriate steps in this regard. But these directives are being violated with impunity in Mumbai, he alleged.
Mr Galgali alleged that in the past five days over 50,000 homeless have been subjected to severe treatment by the police despite the chilly weather. The homeless sleep on pavements, below flyovers, foot over bridges etc because they have no place to take shelter. Especially in south Mumbai a large number of people can be seen sleeping in the open, they have been subjected to severe treatment by the Mumbai Police.
The homeless in Mumbai are usually found on streets, sidewalks, train stations, under the flyovers, and outdoor spaces in areas like Charni Road, S.K. Patil Udyan, Opera House, Azad Maidan, Lokmanya Tilak Marg, VP Road, Dawa Bazar etc, Mr Galgali observed.
He said, “The police arrive at night in their vans, wake up the sleeping homeless and ask them to vacate the pavements. Those who resist are beaten with sticks and their belongings like clothes, grains, and school books are seized. The police also crush the temporary shelters the pavement dwellers build with cardboard or plastic to keep the cold away.
Mr Galgali said, “I met the police commissioner and requested him to stop taking action against the homeless; but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. He said pavement dwellers pose a nuisance to pedestrians. They also dirty the surroundings since they cook and eat in the open.”
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