The Curious Case of Abdul Rasheed

April 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Ambernath is a small town in Thane district of Maharashtra. Gulabrao Karanjule, then the president of the city committee of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is the main accused of the Naresh Gaikawad murder case which took place in October 2002. Gaikwad was the Dalit Panther activist and brother of well-known Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Shyam Gaikwad.

All this makes a very little sense while travelling in Chennai to visit private mental homes. But all of a sudden when Abdul Rasheed, a patient from one of these mental homes, speaking in fluent Marathi, claims that he was the vice-president of that same city committee and witnessed the murder of Naresh Gaikawad, your travelling comes to a sudden impede.

Abdul Rasheed claimed that he is originally from Byculla in South Mumbai. His daughter beat him causing serious injury to his hand. He said that, since his brain wasn’t working properly during that period, she beat him and threw him to snatch his flat in Mumbai.

Abdul spilled his secrets, as he claims them to be, when asked him about his other family. His sister stays in Ambernath (he gave her address and phone number, but the number was out of service) where according to him he was the vice-president of NCP’s city committee, and was working under the leadership of Gulabrao Karanjule. He also gave his address from Ambernath, mentioning the tiniest details.

Abdul is a mental-patient undergoing treatment in a private mental-home in Chennai. He landed in Chennai with broken hand and wanted to go to Padi, as his friend had advised him. On Chennai Central station he met a lady who offered him biscuit and tea. Later he was taken to an NGO called ‘Dayasadan.’ As per his account, he wasn’t treated on his injury and also the basic amenities were extremely bad. They used to bathe once in three days. There were no proper clothes and medical facilities were not available. He was rescued from there and was brought to the place, where he is staying currently.

“Gulabrao planned Naru’s (Naresh Gaikawad) murder in a meeting in his own office. I was there. He hired assassins, namely Indin and Papa. A builder called Nazir and an important leader from Shiv Sena’s city committee was also involved. The witnesses were threatened and given Rs. 5000 each to keep their mouth shut. My sister’s brother-in-law Anjum provided chopper to those assassins and later he became government witness in the court hence was released on bail,” Abdul said. (The complete conversation with Abdul Rasheed is recorded and is available in Marathi. These are few of the important points from the conversation).

Interestingly, when Rasheed’s story was compared with actual events most of the events turned out to be accurate. Rasheed’s case raises a number of questions. How does he know Gulabrao? How does he remember his sister’s address and phone number, but does not remember details about his journey to Chennai? Even if he is lying, why has he chosen a political murder to lie about? How a mentally-ill patient knows tiniest of details of this murder? If he was a public figure in Ambernath, then does his family there know about his treatment? Whether his story about his daughter is true or there is some-thing which he does not remember?

When told about Rasheed’s case, a psychiatrist from a reputed institution ridiculed his story calling it blabber. “Mental-patients do such talking. You can’t trust everything they say,” he remarked.

But the questions which arise after listening to Rasheed’s story are valid and need an answer.

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April 13, 2010 at 6:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Isn’t it funny? If I would have got through the placement process till now, I wouldn’t have cribbed about it so much. But since, I’m in the different league right now, I can’t help but crib.

You work toward the aim of becoming a good journalist for one whole year. You go around, travel the city, meet the people, interview them and try to produce the best article possible. You wait for your professors to go through your copy and comment on it. You do expect them to praise you for your hard work. Then again you work hard for your dissertation, your Investigative Project. You proudly feature that in your resume. You think your recruiter -to-be will go through it and will ask question on it. Your dreams shatter when the HR person asks you, Which is your favourite movie?

They are not bothered your work from the last year. They are not concerned whether you were dedicated or not. They give a damn about your reserach project. All they need is, are you a good presentor? Are you good looking? And are you willing to work within the constriants of the organisation with minimum amount of pay? That’s it. If you are ready to lick their butt, with mouth wide open, you are in. Your journalistic skills doesn’t count much.

I guess I should do that, too!

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April 3, 2010 at 1:02 am (Uncategorized)

I was bored. Tired of the travelling I had done in a day. Wanted to ease myself and smoke a few cigarettes. As I lit the first, I thought of my laptop. A device which most of the times help you to relax by switching on some good music on it. I wasn’t wrong. Well, I thought so!

Searching for a perfect slow, soothing, calm music in my music files I chose Robbie Williams. Why? I don’t know. The song was “Feel.” And the moment I played it, I knew I had committed a mistake. Such a beautiful song, such a wonderful lyrics. I used to love that music sometime back, not very long ago, till 2 months back. But now. that song drags me to the past (it used to do the same two months back, but it felt good at that time, not these days). And so it happened. It took me back, to those innumerable nights, to those unforegetable moments, to those unimagined but ever-craved for time, which I was trying to forget. The time which -without the shadow of a doubt – was the most memorable time of my life, till now.

An early morning stroll with you on the beach in Alibaug, one of the memorable nights at Rutu’s house, a new-year celebration at the farm house, dinner at the hotel – where for the first time we shared a dining table after the official approval from our parents, unforgettable time at my house, my hiding below the cot after the arrival of an unexpected intruder, your beautiful greetings, your tears, your laugh, my sarcasm, my anger and our first kiss!   

It was inevitable for me to browse through the Photos. I couldn’t control – not as if I wanted otherwise, I now realise. I was hesitant for a moment. Where should I start from? Should I browse through your snaps only or should I look for OUR snaps? I decided on former. It was your memoey which was biting my head. I was always there, where I am right now. It’s just that you have moved ahead for a better life, may be. You, you and you…really I am not getting enough of you, still. So as my disillusioned brain told me to open your photos, and my finger moved on the touchpad to open the folder. I clicked on the folder named, ‘frnds and family.’ Ironical, isn’t it. I have deleted you from my friends page and you no longer want to be the part of my family, but still your photos find peace and place in this album. I have kept them there, not because I still want you back, but just to make myself more human. I fear, if I delete you completely from my life, I may loose my sanity. I really do fear that. It’s always good to keep your glorious past with you, and in this case not in person but in photos. When I opened the photos, I could sense that all these photos will remind me of their stories. I was a proud collector, because I hadn’t forgotten a single story.

I opened the first photo, not yours, but mine. You were the photographer. Taken in a bus, with my new digital camera, tavelling from house to the study camp’s place. We were full of activism, weren’t we? Student politics, union, agitation, dharna, morcha, pamphlets, strike, lack of money etc. etc. Well, you must thank me (if you still remember those days) for introducing you to the new world. I still remember when you came to the union office for the first time. Problems, people do face problems and those are bigger than that of selecting a side-dish from the menu card. You were completely new to that world. I wouldn’t lie, but I sometimes dreamed of you and me becoming a wholetimer and spending our life-time in that office. I was a pseudo-romantic, stupid fucker! I realise that now.

Next photo was of you and Rahul, sitting together and having a cup of tea. I was the photographer. I must admit, that is an excellent snap. Your smile, dangling hair, pink top with blue jeans, roundish face with attractive features made me stare at you for a moment. Rahul’s ever-smiling face stole some spot-light. Two of the dynamic peoples I have met in my life. Well, offcourse our group of four with me and Mahesh is scattered now. What remains is the memory of our never-ending chats in a small tea-shop, on the bike, in a hotel or at a chinese restaurent. It was priceless; the time, the friendship, the bond, the understanding, and the sharing. Don’t you ever feel to go back to those good-old days with a sheer enthusiasm like before? Don’t you want to go for a aimless walk again, which always lead us to some conclusion? Don’t you ever want to gulp that cutting-chai again and burn your tounge? Don’t you ever want to take an absoultely unknown route to the known destination, again?

I browsed through many snaps that night. But these two remained as a permanent stamp on my mind. You know, sometimes such thoughts make my life, a living hell (if something like that really exists). But I have started liking that, may be it makes me stronger than before or may be it brings out the me from myself. Surely, I will never forgive you for what you have done to me but I will always remain thankful to you, for transforming me from the old Alok to the new Alok. Thank you, very much!

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March 23, 2010 at 7:37 pm (Uncategorized)

thoda saman….thode paise….thodi cheeze…jo meri nahi

thoda hisaab jo adhura hain..thoda pyaar jo bacha tha..thoda dil jo tuta mera hai

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A good day should not end up with fucked up mind!

March 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm (Uncategorized)

A good day should never end with a fucked up mind! You wake up in the morning at 7.30 (even though it’s a Sunday), clean yourself and go for a movie at 9 AM. You watch a reasonably nice foreign film and descent documentary. You start your thinking process about the film. You register few things and decide a structure to write your review on.  Then think a little hard about the film’s core. Reorganise the review in your brain. Come to your home, open the laptop and start writing. Your flow is good, words are fine and thoughts are in order. You sketch those words on a word-document file. Though you aren’t thoroughly happy about your piece, you are satisfied with the first attempt.

Then you are hungry. You decide to go to the hostel mess, for a lunch. You aren’t very hopeful about the food, but surprisingly you get some good food and that too non-veg. You eat till you can’t eat anymore. Then you discuss debate and understand few things about Assam from your fellow batch-mate. It gives you some new information which you hadn’t heard before. You end up the discussion with a deserved smoke.

You go back to your room and start writing your dissertation. You are way ahead than others, which gives an extra boost to your ego. Since the ego is perfectly satisfied, you don’t find it necessary to involve yourself in much of the intellectual masturbation. You decide to turn off the laptop and have another smoke. You are looking forward to go to a play, an English play. An elite play, as they say!

You love the idea of seeing your favourite movie stars in that play. You are all set and dressed up. You call your friend and ask her when they are leaving, so that you can catch them and go with them. It happens as it was planned. You are happier than ever!

You see the crowd and are flattened by the atmosphere. You love it, and the play starts (15 minutes late). But as the play starts, you forget about the late beginning. You get involved in the play and appreciate the subtle nature of it. It says a lot, but does not preach. It makes you comfortable and joyful. You thank yourself for paying 100 rupees for the play. It was worth it, you tell yourself.

And then the entire group of yours decides to go out for a dinner. Nobody knows, where are they eating and follow others blindly. But still you are happy so you decide to ignore it. Finally, after wasting 20 minutes you are exhausted and decide to go where you wanted to go at the first place. You and three other friends of yours – here the misery starts – who speak the same language which you do not understand, enter in to a restaurant. You order food, but what comes is a sheer ignorant nature of your friends and your helplessness.

They completely forget you and you become an outsider, a total outsider. You try to speak (in a common language i.e. English or Hindi) and initially you do achieve some success. But after a while, the 3 on 1 combination becomes hard to handle. You become silent. You watch them talking – since you don’t understand what are they saying – and finally give up. You turn your head and start watching television. But you can’t understand tamil movie. You feel really helpless. You wonder how come these three people are not even bothered about you.

You decide to concentrate on the television. You are sure that people dancing and throwing dramatic dialogues in that movie, aren’t aware of your helplessness. But these three people surely are. They know you are sitting with them, on their table, their friend who does not understand their language. And more to add, they all can speak the two common languages. You are pissed off and want to run away. But you are not that strong enough or maybe you do not want to spoil the night. You stay there. Nobody notices you. You sit there for some more time. And some more…Finally they finish their food and the bill comes. You thank the waiter. Everyone pays the share and sets off. You want to speak out loud, but still those three are their own world. You go and buy cigarettes. Want to smoke desperately. But don’t want to be with them at that moment. You volunteer to stop the auto. Then everyone comes and bargain. The auto is fixed, they are inside the auto and are about to leave. You want the autowala to leave as early as he can.

They drove off. You lit the smoke. You think about them and at the same time you think about regional, communal and male chauvinism. As the cigarette burns, your thought process becomes more and more radical. At the end you can’t think of anything and feel completely lost. You think about people who are sidelined by society for thousands of years, women who are abandoned by their families and children who survive without any attention from our government. You relate yourself with them.

You want one more smoke. But instead your hand goes to your mobile phone. You dial a number. You say, “Hello! XYZ, did you reach safely?”

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Difficult, really difficult!

February 23, 2010 at 5:52 pm (Uncategorized)

I logged on to g-mail and was checking the mail inbox. Wasn’t bothered who was online or who wasn’t. Suddenely a message box appeared. It was her. She said “hi.” I wondered for a moment. Should I or shouldn’t I? I was kinda nervous. What do we have to talk now? Haven’t we (rather you) finished all the business 3 weeks back. What does she want now? But I couldn’t resist. I replied. Hi, I said. Tried to remain as cold as possible and decided not to encourage the conversation much. Let’s see what she wants, NOW!

“How are you?” she asked.

“I’m fine.” Pause. Pause. Pause.

“How are you?” I coudn’t restrain myself.  She replied the same. Though we both knew we were lying.

She asked me few things and I answered those few things. I wanted her to log off. Or should I log out? Why should I? Why should I feel this as embarassing? Let her talk, I will reply. Let my reply be so dry and cold, that she would never message me back.

Hey, I thought for a second or two. Do I really want her never ever to message me back or I was just getting too emotional? I do want to know about her life. I haven’t spoken to her from last three weeks. First time in last five years. I haven’t asked her about her studies, about her parents, about herself. Nothing. I need to know something. Let’s not end this conversation so abruptly.

“Did you tell your parents?” She asked. Her typing speed was very slow. I could sense that. Was she also feeling uncomfortable? She must be.

“Yeah, nothing much. Just told them what has happened. They weren’t angry at anyone. Just concerned. It’s fine but. Don’t you worry. How about your parents?” 

 “Dad didn’t talk to me about that. He just asked what your parents said. He talked with mom. Must be blaming me, for not being the nice girl.”  Her typing speed was really slow or was that the net connectivity?

“It’s fine.” Did I sound too soft?

‘What’s wrong with you, Alok. You dickhead! Why the hell are you wasting your sympathy on her. She dumped you, you jackass! Get over it. You are not a couple anymore. You are –  fucking – two –  single individuals. ‘ One part of my mortal body cried out loud. Cursed me. Yelled at me. Abused me.

‘Be what you are, and don’t waste yourself.’ My other part said.

I decided to follow the latter one. I started typing.

“How’s Yatin?…”

“… now?” That was the most difficult question, I could ever ask to anyone. She was my girlfriend just three weeks back and today I asked her about her new love.

“……..” A big pause. I could feel that, she was awkward. May be unwilling to answer. May be..who knows.

“Not exactly. I thought we shouldn’t go in a hurry. We have decided to wait for some time.” Her reply was in.

I was puzzled. What am I supposed to ask now? Wouldn’t it be better, if we end this conversation here?

There is no ending as such to this conversation. It might pop-up again. The only remedy to prevent it from popping up is to move on. 

Moving on sounds difficult sometimes. Really difficult!

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Who are you?

February 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm (Uncategorized)

I always wonder, who are you? Why do I feel so close to you? Ever since we parted our ways I tried to erase you from my memory. I tried to delete all the scenes and edit all the convesations. It wasn’t possible. It wasn’t easy. Offcurse, it wouldn’t be. But, then I tried too hard. And at that time, the situation went out of my hand. I realised how engrossed I was in you. My each and every move was with you. I always claimed – rather I was proud of – that I am an emotionally independent person. I don’t need anyone to share my sorrows and griefs. I am capable of handling my emotional quotient. But I forgot one thing. I was claiming that, when I was with you. I was totally dependent on you, without my knowledge. I asked you everything. I told you all my life. And when I didn’t, you asked me. You asked me with such authority, that I couldn’t neglect. And every time I ended up omitting my thoughts.  How Ironic! And still I thought, I am emotionally independent.

You had a command over my life. I wasn’t the weakest of guys, who would submit themselves to their girls. Hah, I was pretty much a man atleast that’s what I thought. You came, you saw and you stole me from my false notion of manhood. You were no different. You were nothing special, nothing unusual, not with high IQ and not with world’s sweetest voice. You were like any other person, in this world. I wasn’t nothing special too. But you fell for me and I was mad for you.

Days, months and years…6 long years of our relationship. Seems like a short and sweet dream to me. A dream, which I would always prefer to sleep with.

Suddenely one day, you told me. You like this other guy. You like him, more than me. Your voice sounded guilty. It was cracking in between. It seemed that, you never wanted to tell this to me; but had to. I wasn’t expecting that, certainly not!

You like someone else. Why? Did I do anything wrong? Did I lie to you? What wrong did I do, which made me your second preference?

It was your decision. I accepted it. Was I wrong there? I don’t know. If you don’t like me anymore, then it doesn’t matter whether I like you or not. But I still have a right to like you. You can’t snatch that right from me.

As I look back, you are one of the most important persons in my life. The one who loved me, enjoyed with me, cried for me, quarreled with me, supported me and most importantly made me understand women. But now, you are no longer here, with me. You are a complete stranger. An alien whom I have never seen and might not see ever again. Who are you? I am confused…

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Time to Move on..

February 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm (Uncategorized)

I always loved this phrase. Time to Move on! It showed me hope, belief, optimism, and never say die courage. These words always told me to forget the past and to concentrate on the future. Come what may, you have to move are not alone and most importantly the set backs you suffer are very minor, when you compare them with your future victories.

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February 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm (Uncategorized)

“I like another guy. I always wanted to tell you, but wasn’t ready or you can say scared. Scared of your reaction, your emotions and of myself. I am not sure. I was dwindling. I was exploring myself at the same time. I checked and cross-checked myself for many times, but couldn’t throw him out of my head. Initially I ignored it as an infatuation. Don’t know when I started loving that infatuation. And today, I almost can’t live without that infatuation. It has filled my mind with thoughts. Thoughts about us, about him, about our relationship, about his smiling face. I don’t know what to do? I can’t reach to a conclusion. I hate when we have to make a choice, between two of the best. We have to eliminate one, in order to achieve a greater joy. Is that the only thing we want? A greater Joy? A happily ever-after sort of life? who knows..maybe I want only that. But what cost do I have to pay to achieve that? I am so sorry that I am bugging you and disturbing you with my story. But can’t help it. You were the part of my life for last six years. I called you, I talked with you, I traveled with you, I lied for you, I kissed you…How can I even think of departing you?
Is this what they call, the reality? The life? The inevitable end of a romantic novel? I am confused. You were no wrong..not at all.. but still he is taking me away from you. Am I cheating? Am I selfish? Am I coward?
I am a human being. My mind always look for the best and the soft. I love my comfortable life with all the available luxuries ready to serve. Why should I disown them? Just for you?
But then what about our past? Six long years which we spent together. Was that a relationship or just an illusion? Our dreams, our plans are on the verge of a collapse. ‘A Great Romantic Collapse.’
What if I decide to dump you? What will happen to you? How will you see me in the future? Will you talk to me, after that?
And what if I decide not to dump you? Will you accept me as I was before? Will you ever trust me again? Will your parents accept me?
I have nothing but questions. My mind is full of memories, which refuse to fade out. My heart is beating hundred times faster than usual. the only word which my brain can think of!
Relationships were never so hard for me, than they are today.
I am breaking. Please, help me out! I am breaking!

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The Potter’s World on a Gold Mine

January 19, 2010 at 8:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

For majority of us in India, a slum means poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime and a hot-spot of illegal activities. A typical Indian middle-class citizen thinks twice before passing through such area. Muddy roads, overflowing dustbins, wide-open sewage tanks (if there are any) and poor people make slum, as a prohibited area for us. We find bliss in calling these slums as a disgrace to our city and always welcome any act of slum demolition under the name of beautification or development of a city. But these stereotypes do crumple when we actually enter a slum and start noting details.

Dharavi, with a spread over 540 acres of land and around 70,000 households is the biggest slum in Asia. The history of Dharavi dates back to pre-independence period. As per the records the earliest colony of fishermen in this area – which is known as Dharavi today – was set up way back to 1910.

The interesting story of Dharavi started unfolding around same period. Dharavi, is located in a suburb of Mumbai called Sion, which is also known as Sheev in Marathi. The literal translation of this Marathi word is the Border. Historically, Dharavi slum was set up outside the Mumbai city (though today it has very little meaning, since Mumbai has expanded way too much) because as per the prevalent social norms of that time, people involved in occupations such as leather, pottery, fishing were considered of lower caste and their place was outside the village. As the time passed, the border has now become the centre of Mumbai and these small scale industries are still going strong.

The potters, the cobblers and the fishermen were the original residents of Dharavi. And the Kumbharwada (potter’s land) is one of the oldest colonies in Mumbai, functioning since 1912. Interestingly, the potter’s in Dharavi are from Saurashtra, Gujrat. During that period Mumbai was establishing as a port and sea-route was the only convenient itinerary to reach Mumbai from Gujrat. Around 150/200 potter families used to come from Saurashtra –via sea to Mumbai for eight months of a year. The soil around Dharavi area was perfect for their business of pottery. These families used to live in small huts made up of coconut tree leaf. In 1930, all these huts were burned in an inferno, after which the trader community in Mumbai helped these potter families with money, food and shelter.

During that period, the potters requested for an enduring land to then British government, with the help of trader community of Mumbai. The British government approved their request the allotted the 13.5 acres of land in Dharavi on a lease of 99 years, after which these 200 families were settled permanently in Dharavi and started their small-scale business of producing earthen pots, diyas, murals etc. Amazingly, the descendants of those 200 potter families are still working at the same place. Only 5-6 families have left Dharavi and have returned to Saurashtra.

Nathabhai Chauhan, is a well-known and highly respected potter from Kumbharwada. His pots, diyas and other decorative items are extremely popular amongst the upper-middle class and middle-class market. He also provides a number of items for Hindi serials and films. He describes the change in pottering industry. He said “In older days my father used to sell 50 pots for 3 rupees and now one pot costs around 150 rupees. We used to get our soil from nearby area, but now it is impossible to get soil from Mumbai, so we have to import soil from Saurashtra. That kills the small potter. Many are planning to quit this profession.” Kumbharwada in Dharavi, produces around 70% earthen pots and diyas which are being sold in Mumbai. The 13 acres of land gives employment to around 2000 workers. Nathabhai believes that pottery is an art. He goes around different places conducting workshops on pottery. He was invited in Sir J. J. School of Arts for a special lecture on pottery. “My children are not interested in pottery. One is in Australia and other is in America. And daughter is doing her M.A. It is better to spread knowledge than to confine
it,” he says.

Dhansukh Parmar is the President of Prajapati Society in Kumbharwada. Prajapati Society is a registered society for the well-being of potter community. The Society provides raw material for furnaces at reasonable rates. The age-old furnaces, made up of bricks require raw material such as cotton. As the cotton-mills in Mumbai started closing down, the supply of cotton waste to Kumbharwada was scanted. Without proper raw material the furnaces stopped functioning, without furnace the soil items could not be baked, ultimately the potter’s life became hell. The pollution caused by the old-furnaces was also important. The Prajapati Society is trying to answer all these questions. The raw material issue is still unresolved. They import the waste-cotton from Gujrat, which increases the total cost of a product. The society is also trying to set-up gas furnaces to counter the pollution problem.

Yousuf Mulla, does not care about pollution. He said, “yahan khane ko paisa nahi, pollution kaun dekhega?”(We don’t have enough money to eat, who will care for pollution?). According to him these gas furnaces have limited functionality and will constrain present productivity. “Kumbharwada is like a melting pot. We are Gujrati Muslims. Those are Gujrati Hindus. But when it comes to business, we all are Potters” Yousuf explained the economics in simple words. “Poverty is inevitable. Does not matter which language they speak or which religion they belong to. Closing of cotton-mills not only affected the mill-workers but to entire Kumbharwada.”

Dharavi is a place where one can find a person from almost every Indian state. With over 30% Tamil population (who started and still dominates the leather industry), it is the only place in Maharashtra where parties such as All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) contest Municipality elections. The posters of Jayalalitha (former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu), Vijaykanth (famous Tamil film actor turned politician) and Sushil Kumar Shinde (an influential congress leader, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and cabinet minister in current UPA government) can be found on the same wall. Nadar community from Tamil Nadu has a strong presence in Dharavi. Albert Nadar a respected member of the community owns a very popular hotel in Dharavi.

The Marathi community constitutes 30% of the total population. Most of the population belongs to SC category and work in the leather industry. Dharavi is the main production centre for Papads, gives employment to thousands of women. Farsan, a very popular namkeen snack is produced in Dharavi. Though official figures regarding leather and farsan industries are not available, it is estimated that 9000 to 10,000 people are dependent on these small scale business market. The Muslim community is in to hotel and tailoring business. “Every child in Dharavi can speak at least three languages and when he/she goes to a school he/she speaks English also” Yousuf said, with a smirk.

“Poverty does not mean that Dharavi is a criminals’ paradise. Look at the density of population of Dharavi and of Malabar Hill (Rich area in South Mumbai) and then talk about the criminal activities. People here do fear the police.” Raju Korde, conveyer of Dharavi Bhachao Andolan (DBA) makes his point. DBA was formed in 2004, when the Government of Maharashtra came up with the Dharavi Redevelopment Project, worth rupees 20,600 crores.

For DBA and Raju Korde the struggle has just begun. “The government wants to throw us out under the smart name of redevelopment. People do not want to live in slums, but we have our terms and conditions. We will not bend as per government rules, which are influenced by real estate lobby.” Mr. Korde states it clearly.

“Just ask them, why so sudden interest in Dharavi?” he asks. “We are standing at the centre of Mumbai now. May be we are standing on a land which will cost many lakh per square feet. We are seating on a gold mine. 540 acres of gold mine.”

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