Moving 2016: Homeless

2015 was the year of migrants. To mark 2016, The Sunday Express tracks 16 people who moved home in 2015, some of them in public glare, some just a footnote in India’s internal migrants story, to begin new lives.

Updated: December 27, 2015 12:29 pm

Sooner or later, Salman Khan will come meet her, Geeta hopes

Geeta, 23 (Indore) Returned from Pakistan

In two months, eight sets of parents have come forward claiming that Geeta is their daughter. The speech-and-hearing-impaired 23-year-old who returned from Pakistan amidst much fanfare doesn’t let that affect her at her new — and what is meant to be temporary — home in Indore.

READ | Moving 2016: Hope

READ | Moving 2016: Neighbourhood

READ | Moving 2016: Wars

READ | Moving 2016: Conflict

Geeta had strayed into Pakistan onboard the Samjhauta Express that crosses the border at Attari in Punjab. She landed in Karachi, and spent 15 years there before the release of super-hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan, themed on a lost Pakistani girl in India, kindled interest in her case.

(READ FULL TEXT: Sooner or later, Salman Khan will come meet her, Geeta hopes)

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We are carrying our children’s books. I want them to keep on studying: Shakurbasti residents

Shamima, 39; Md Alam, 43 (Delhi): Displaced in the shakurbasti demolition

For the past one week, Shamima and Alam have been staying inside a makeshift tent. On December 12, their hutment was among the 500 bulldozed by the Railways in Shakurbasti in Delhi, leaving hundreds of families homeless and sparking off a controversy following the death of a child.

The couple say this is not the first time they have been uprooted from Shakurbasti, an “illegal” colony of 1,200 shanties in northwest Delhi that sits on land owned by the Railways. “The ministry demolished our homes twice earlier, the last time in 2008. But we settled here again. We will never move from Shakurbasti,” says Alam, a rickshaw-puller who moved to the national capital from Darbhanga, Bihar, over 20 years ago.

(READ FULL TEXT: We are carrying our children’s books. I want them to keep on studying: Shakurbasti residents)

I want son to be rich, not lose land bit by bit: Assam floods survivor

Dharmendra Pegu, 39 (Khanapara Reserved Forest): Displaced from Dhemaji by erosion caused by Brahmaputra

For Dharmendra Pegu, a katha of land in the Khanapara reserved forest in Guwahati has been home for about a year. And he is not sure how long he will stay here. Pegu has been moving homes for the past 18 years, his village, Namoni Arkep in Assam’s Dhemaji district, being gradually eaten by the erosion caused by the Brahmaputra.

Floods, massive sand deposits on homesteads and paddy fields, and continuous river-bank erosion have rendered at least 485 families of five villages including Namoni Arkep without a home or land. Pegu’s last portion of ancestral land was gulped by the river in the August floods. Even in the past few months, Pegu has shifted several times until he occupied — encroached — a part of Khanapara reserved forest.

(READ FULL TEXT: I want son to be rich, not lose land bit by bit: Assam floods survivor)