Since Sunday, when the first and only attempt to dump garbage at Rani Khera was made, no MCD truck has been able to enter the area. For the last three days, infuriated locals have been manning the “temporary” dumping ground, and have pitched a tent with a banner that reads ‘anishchit kaleen dharna (indefinite dharna)’. Rani Khera was chosen as a dumping ground after orders were issued to shut down Ghazipur and Bhalswa.
At the forefront of the Rani Khera protest are women — local Jats who live in nearby villages as well as Purvanchali migrants who have settled in the colonies. While some of them occasionally run back home to cook and clean, feed cattle or look after their children, others have stopped cooking or sending their children to school.
“Yeh Raniyon ka khera hai. Hum yahan ki raniyan hain. Till we are alive, nobody can make this a dumping ground,” said Krishna Devi, a septuagenarian from a nearby village, who was among 200 women gathered at the site on Tuesday morning.
“We have been sitting here since Sunday. I go home for four hours in the afternoon to finish cooking and feeding animals, and then come back. We all sit here overnight, singing bhajans and kirtans to keep ourselves awake. We are not afraid of anything,” she added.
Vimla Devi, another local, has eight grandchildren. None of them have gone to school since Monday. “My whole family is sitting here. This dharna is the most important thing right now. If this becomes a dumping site, children’s future will be ruined,” she said.
The issue is even more grave for Purvanchali residents of Yogiraj Puram colony, which is closest to the site. “Our house is barely 200 metres away so we are most affected. I want to ask (Delhi BJP chief) Manoj Tiwari, what are you doing for your Purvanchali people?” said Savita, who hails from Chhapra in Bihar. Phool Kumar, Chaudhary from Arrah in Bihar, said, “We are told so much about Swachh Bharat; are we not part of this Bharat?”