THE INAUGURAL match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, to be played at the Salt Lake Stadium on October 8, is likely to see protests by temporary hawkers and shanty dwellers from the area, who have allegedly been forcefully evicted last month to make way for the event.
Around 10 matches are scheduled to be played at the stadium between October 8 and 28.
Shaktiman Ghosh, general secretary of the National Hawkers Federation and Hawkers Sangram Samiti, claimed that the Kolkata and Bidhannagar municipal corporations had started the eviction drive — from the Dum Dum airport area to Salt Lake — on September 12.
“So far, one lakh people, including hawkers and shanty dwellers, have been forcefully evicted. It is against law and also against the guidelines of FIFA, which mention that no eviction drive should be carried out due to the game… On October 8, while the match will start from 5 pm, we will be protesting outside the stadium from 2 pm when the inauguration ceremony will begin,” he said.
“We have also initiated an online signature petition, which has already been signed by 1,000 people. The petition will be forwarded to the FIFA and also the state government,” Ghosh added.
The petition stated: “FIFA claims to adhere to all UN Human Rights Conventions. Even its own Human Rights Policy says ‘while recognising that land acquisition is primarily the responsibility of the government hosting the respective competition or of the respective member association responsible for the project, FIFA expects and promotes the respect of international human rights standards where land acquisition involves expropriations and in particular where people are resettled in the process’. However, the organisation chose to be silent on this large scale displacement.”
“The eviction was done in violation of Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act-2014… hence, all organisations fighting for the rights of hawkers and shanty dwellers will leave no stone unturned,” said Ghosh. An official of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation said: “These protesters don’t have official documents pertaining to the land where they live and run their business… those evicted had forcefully encroached upon the land.”