In Noida, The Workers Arrested for Storming Mahagun Moderne Were Booked for Attempt to Murder and Denied Bail Without Any Such Allegations in the FIRs

19 July 2017
Among the men detained from the colonies was Rahul Sattar, Zohra’s teenaged son, who, according to his neighbours, had graduated from the seventh grade the previous year. The metal sheet covering the family’s sparse room was bent out of shape when the police forcefully took Rahul with them.
ANUMEHA YADAV
Among the men detained from the colonies was Rahul Sattar, Zohra’s teenaged son, who, according to his neighbours, had graduated from the seventh grade the previous year. The metal sheet covering the family’s sparse room was bent out of shape when the police forcefully took Rahul with them.
ANUMEHA YADAV

A sheet of tin that served as the gate to a makeshift colony of domestic workers, daily-wage labourers, and other workers, in Sector 78 in Noida, was bent and broken in half. The colony is adjacent to Mahagun Moderne, a sprawling residential complex spread over 25 acres, around 50 kilometers from the national capital. It is one among several such workers’ settlements in the area. The houses inside the colony were single-room constructions, made of similar tin sheets. On 13 July, when I visited the colony, it appeared deserted—most of the houses were bolted from the outside. I approached a group of young women and men who were standing at one end of the quarters, huddled around a man speaking on the phone.

Rizwaul Haq, a young man dressed in a pink shirt and grey trousers, stood at the centre of the group. Haq runs a small nearby shop that sells cosmetics, and is a resident of the workers’ colony. He looked tense and routinely paused his conversation to consult the group. “How many families can give Rs 500 today?” he asked the others. “Should we ask the lawyer to apply [for bail] for all 13 men?”

The Noida police had arrested the 13 men the previous night, allegedly for being part of a mob that stormed Mahagun Moderne earlier in the day. The mob had entered the complex after news spread that Zohra Bibi, a 26-year-old domestic worker employed with several households in Mahagun Moderne, was missing inside the complex. The Noida police had raided workers’ settlements within a two-kilometre radius of the complex in the intervening night of 12 and 13 July. Parshu Ram, the station house officer at the Sector 49 police station, said that a total of 78 men were detained.

Even Rs 500 per bail application was difficult for the workers. Most of the arrested workers were employed as sweepers and construction workers close to the apartment complexes where their wives worked as domestic workers.. ANUMEHA YADAV Even Rs 500 per bail application was difficult for the workers. Most of the arrested workers were employed as sweepers and construction workers close to the apartment complexes where their wives worked as domestic workers.. ANUMEHA YADAV
Even Rs 500 per bail application was difficult for the workers. Most of the arrested workers were employed as sweepers and construction workers close to the apartment complexes where their wives worked as domestic workers.
ANUMEHA YADAV

Haq and his neighbor Anwarul were continuously fielding calls—from different trade unions that were beginning to get in touch with them; trying to locate where the police were holding the detained workers from the colonies; and trying to contact lawyers to apply for bail. They managed to bring down the lawyers' fee to Rs 500 per bail application, but even that was difficult for the workers. Most of the arrested workers were employed as sweepers and construction workers close to the apartment complexes where their wives and women relatives worked as domestic workers. Only seven families were able to contribute towards the lawyers’ fees—the group had Rs 3,500, about half the amount it needed.

Anumeha Yadav is an independent journalist, and a consulting researcher with Azim Premji University.

Keywords: Noida class domestic workers class struggle bail
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