The struggle will continue till we claim our rights
We will take what is our rightful due.
We seek accountability for the incarceration and unlawful displacement carried out by the state.
Women from different backgrounds have come together for this common goal.
These slogans (translated from Hindi) reverberated at the women’s day programme celebrated at Khori Gaon, Delhi-Haryana border.
The ‘International Women’s day’ event was organised at Chungi No. 3 Lal Kuan, Delhi. This location is significant because it is at the border between Delhi-Haryana with the demolished settlement in the background.
Rekha Behen, Samina Khatoon, Sitara, Radha Devi, Najma Khatoon, Sumitraji, Gurdeep Kaur, Usha Behen and many other sisters spoke about the eviction and atrocities they have faced from July 14, 2021, till now.
They said, “March 8 is a day of respect for women. But we will not forget how we were forcibly evicted from our homes. We are constantly being attacked. In Faridabad, even today, there are 122 sites illegally occupied by the rich, but the government is taking no action against them. During the brutal evictions that started on July 14, 2021, police also lathi-charged women and girls. Some were beaten with sticks, and few were arrested and put behind bars. Women were tortured by the police. When their houses were demolished, pregnant, disabled, the elderly and little girls suffered a lot. We were forced to defecate in the open. The hungry and thirsty people of Khori Gaon were left to fend for themselves in the rain. No relief was provided, or arrangements were made regarding girls’ education. As a result, most girls stopped going to schools and colleges.”
“Government officials keep using the slogan ‘Educate girls, save girls’ (Beti Padhao Beti Bachao), but which girls? But here in Khori Gaon, the reality is the opposite. The slogan seems to be – Ruin girls’ future (Beti Ujado).
“We want to celebrate Women’s Day. But what is there to celebrate? We have no home; we are homeless today.”
Unanimously the women declared, “ the atrocities committed on us, on Khori Gaon residents, will not be forgotten”. The state has to answer for this. We will continue fighting and raising our voice.”
The ‘International Women’s day’ event concluded with a conversation about the struggle and organising challenges that everyone has faced till now and with the agreement that even with all the differences, women and others have to be united in this struggle for justice.
Rekha Bahen sang ‘Gentle is not weak – the name of power is woman’ (Komal hai kamjor nahi – Shakti ka naam hi naari hai) at the end of the programme. The women also sang the famous struggle song ‘That’s why we chose the struggle path’ (Isiliye raah sangarsh ki hum chale).
Youth members of team Saathi narrated the famous revolutionary youth poet Pash’s poem ‘We will fight comrades’ (Hum Ladehenge Saathi) by contextualising it to the demolition of Khori Gaon.
The women took an oath in the program:
“The injustice and atrocities will not be forgotten. We will hold the government accountable.”
On June 7 2021, the government demolished Khori Gaon without conducting any survey based on the Supreme Court’s order. The houses that were flattened stood on the plot of land that each family had bought by spending their life’s savings. They built their homes with love, a lot of sacrifices, and hopes for a better future. The destruction of their property took everything from them and dignity. They were humiliated, abused, beaten, jailed during the forced eviction.
Without any compensation, alternative shelter or aid from the state, the greatest impact of this eviction was on the women. Most women are working women, who work outside and also take care of their families. After this demolition, the biggest problem is that they have no place to stay; they have no roof over their heads, completely exposed to the weather conditions. They have faced winter, rain and summer in the last nine months.
“The government did not consider us humans. But we are working women; we have dignity. We have the power to fight. We will continue to fight for our rights. We will continue our fight till we get justice.”