Through a thin, crumbling staircase, Bherulal made his way back up to the first floor to check if he had left anything behind. The walls have cracks, and according to the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), the entire structure is unsafe.
But as Bherulal prepared to move away, he was upset that he was leaving a home he had known for 80 years. “I do not want to talk about it. Anyway, it has all become a big tamasha. Now we have to leave,” he said.
Houses 52 and 53 on Nagar Nigam road in Indore’s Ganji Compound have been at the epicentre of a national controversy. This house was declared a public safety hazard by the IMC and was scheduled to be demolished on June 26, when MLA Akash Vijayvargiya assaulted an IMC official with a bat. Vijayvargiya had alleged that the officials had misbehaved with women and the one remaining tenant family in the building.
Vijayvargiya would later be arrested and sent to jail, and the Indore BJP would rally in support of him, even as photos of the assault were flashed across television screens.
Five days later Vijayvargiya returned to a hero’s welcome, only to be admonished by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a message that has left the Indore BJP in hiding.
For his part, Bherulal approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court against the demolition, but the court refused to stay the process, though it did ask the IMC to arrange for temporary shelter for three months within two days, after which the demolition could take place.
With the building set to be demolished on Friday, Bherulal said, “I was not in Indore yesterday, so the IMC sent us a notice that they have a house for us and they would help transport our stuff. They gave it to my son.” Senior corporation officers said that the demolition was set for 11 am and all necessary arrangements have been made
Bherulal said that the temporary structure that the IMC has allotted them is in the Bhuri Tekri area of Indore. “That’s where they have allotted us, and so that’s where we will go. We lived here for 80 years on rent, so this is a sad day,” he said.
By 2 pm, however, he said that no IMC official had turned up for help. “I am waiting for them, but go we must. This house will be demolished now, no matter what happens,” he said.