[Reader-list] Talking About Nangla - Henna

CM@Nangla nangla at cm.sarai.net
Fri Apr 14 07:57:09 IST 2006


The last one week we have been roaming the lanes of LNJP colony with the
broadsheet from Nangla [see gallery on the blog]. We have done this with
the previous issues of the Cybermohalla broadsheets – distributing them,
standing at different points and reading them out, etc – but the
experience of this time was, to say the least, different.
We set out in the morning, thinking, we will share our own relationship
with Nangla Maanchi as we share the broadsheet. And along with that, we
thought, we would also share our own understanding of what is going on in
Nangla Maanchi right now.

Three of us – Babli, Saifuddin and I – head out towards Bismillah's
lane, which is a very famous lane of LNJP. It is a broad lane, with two
vegetable shops, two tea stalls, a doctor's clinic and a workshop amidst
all the houses on either side of the lane. The lane is always crowded.

So we went there, and began by first giving copies to everyone who lives
there, in their homes. Someone said, “I can't read Hindi”. So Babli
volunteered to read it out. She said, “It's about Nangla Maanchi. Nangla
is a big dwelling. The settlement has now been broken down, just like that.
We have been going there, and along with our friends at the NM Lab, have
brought out this publication”
“Oh, then go ahead and read it out to me.”
“Then listen.” And with that she began to read the first page out.

The hurried passing of people stopped. People became quiet, listening
intently. A big circle of people gathered around us. Whoever would hear the
name, 'Nangla', would halt to listen. Everyone wanted to know what was
happening there, how the houses were broken down. If someone would stand up
and start saying something, others would stop him by saying, “First
listen to what she is reading. You will understand its value when yours
will break...”

An old man standing behind Babli was looking at Babli as if he were reading
the broadsheet himself. As the texts continued to be read out, a lot of
women gathered around. It seemed a strong thread tied everyone to Nangla
Maanchi, as if everyone searched for themselves in the texts.

As soon as Babli finished reading, someone said, “That is how it would
have happened. It has been written well here. It must have been so
difficult to figure out what to do at a moment like that.”

Then he said to Babli, “Beta, you have shared with us a good thing. At
least now we know how things stand there, what everyone's position there
is. This is how it will be here soon as well. But tell me, where exactly is
this place?”

I said, “Uncle it is near the Yamuna. It is much bigger than LNJP and a
lot of people lived there... Uncle, do you know, so many houses have been
broken, but people are still living there. It is difficult to know what
hope they are living there with. They sit there with all their things
outside in the lanes, hoping someone will come and either say, 'Here, you
can go to this place now' or 'This is your home, live in it'.”

The elderly man said, “What will this publication do? Will it help us
understand something? Will it take us to some kind of answers for what is
going on here?”

I said, “No uncle, perhaps it will not give us any answers. But we are
all trying now to understand what is going on in the city right now... None
of us are too far away from Nangla Maanchi, and where it is at right now.
Even in the situation they are all in, people are trying to understand
themselves, their lives, this city, and the State which is doing all

The elderly man said, “Maybe our government will also read this and think
a little... This publication will also travel outside Delhi, and to other
countries as well, won't it... I think something like this will happen here
also. This place is also quite big. A lot of police will come. None of us
will leave peacefully. We had fought a case once for 437 houses here, and
had even won the case. We have been given a time of 5 years, and a promise
of a plot of 600 sq, meters. So I guess we will be alright, and there is
nothing too much to worry about... Do you know, all of Delhi will be
emptied out in this way by 2010...”

I said, “Uncle, all of us will be made to leave from here, this place
will be broken..”
He said, “We will leave, but only say that we should be given the same
amount of space as we have here right now...”
“But uncle, who owns this land?” (I asked him this question because he
was very old, and has been running a vegetable shop here for a very long
time now, and so I thought he will have a specific sense in this regard.)
He said, “Beta, this land was a burial ground, and it is us who have made
it inhabitable. Now the State is becoming greedy. This city is like the
city from the old story – dark is the city, and foolish its ruler. This
government won't last. It has taken other countries' methods as its own
policy. It is a way of turning us into slaves once again. But what can we
do, this is the way of the world...”

A woman said, “When the settement at Shakur Ki Dandi had been broken, it
was winters, and I had gone that side to buy some oil. People had to sit
outside their houses in the cold then. They were sitting with their
children at the bus stop. They were not given any compensation. No thought
was spared to where they would go. I only hope this is not what becomes of
us as well. It is not for no reason that this is called the age of qayamat,
the age when everything will be destroyed.”

“For us the calamity will be when our houses will be broken. And think
about Nangla, where calamity has already struck and people are facing it.”

The elderly uncle said, “Yes it will be terrible then. And think about
everyone who lives here on rent. Where will they all go? And where will we
go? We also have nothing else, nowhere else to go.”

Aslam uncle said, “Yes, but Kauser's brother in law came from Mumbai
yesterday and said their house was broken, but they were given good
compensation – of seven lakh.”
I said, “He can't be telling the truth.”
Aslam uncle: “But what will he gain by lying to us? Maybe there is some
other reason why any compensation, let alone so much, would be given to
him. Maybe it was his own land? I only pray to Allah that we get a roof
over our heads.”

When we left from there, people were still talking among themselves. And
even as we walked, many asked us for copies of the broadsheet. There was a
feeling of closeness in how the broadsheet was being asked for. People
would stop, ask for it, and walk ahead, reading it quietly to themselves.

CM Lab, Nangla Maanchi


It quenches the thirst of the thirsty, 
Such is Nangla,
It shelters those who come to the city of Delhi, 
Such is Nangla. 

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