A journalist turned academician residing in Greater Noida, Kalyan Chatterjee has been hounded by greedy people (goons with the help of local government officials) who have evil eyes on his house. While fighting relentlessly to save his home, he raises pertinent question in self narrative: “I am simply questioning the wisdom of the haphazard urbanization policy followed in our country since British times that has resulted in misery for so many people (like me) and unleashed greed in its worst form with no holds barred.” – Editor
My name is Kalyan Chatterjee and I am a journalist turned academic with more than 30 years of experience. I will turn 59 next month. In the next few paragraphs I will relate the story of how a peace-loving and law-abiding citizen like me has been hounded out of his home in Greater Noida (Gautambudhnagar) by a group of greedy people with the connivance of the authorities. The district where Greater Noida is located is more commonly known as Noida and is a leading part of the national capital region after Gurgaon. I am not asking the old question – why do such things always happen to me. I am simply questioning the wisdom of the haphazard urbanization policy followed in our country since British times that has resulted in misery for so many people (like me) and unleashed greed in its worst form with no holds barred.
I will start at the best place to start – the beginning. Like every working person of Delhi who tires of paying increasing rents, I too aspired to own a home and accomplished this thanks to money loaned to me by my father from his retirement savings. But as my family and children grew I yearned for larger space and an environment that was green and peaceful. In short, a place away from the hustle and bustle of Delhi but not too distant from it and offering many basic facilities that we had become used to.
I looked around the NCR and when I saw the well-planned township of Greater Noida I decided that finally I had reached journey’s end both in terms of my requirements and budget. I purchased a 120-metre plot and built a house on it after selling my old property. It was, as I now realize after living there for ten years, the biggest folly of my life. I was under the impression that NCR was part of Delhi. But I discovered the hard way that it actually it was a part of Uttar (Ulta) Pradesh (and other respective neighbouring states) with all its accompanying ills and more. Greater Noida was full of people from the small towns of Western Uttar Pradesh. These people, who are the elite of the small towns, have mindsets dominated by unbounded greed and will stop and nothing, not even murder, to satiate their appetite for wealth and power. They are the embodiment of the kind of people who want everything without paying anything. This rentier class has low levels of education and no ostensible employment. Their aim therefore seems to be to acquire by hook or by crook properties of working people like me to augment their uncertain source of incomes.
My troubles started in 2011, when my next door neighbor, Nem Singh Yadav, shouted at my wife and daughter in my absence and told them that we would have to quit Greater Noida as we were “outsiders” and could never become “insiders”. (Aren’t the right to reside in any part of India and right of movement fundamental rights? Or does Uttar Pradesh fall outside the Indian Constitution?) Anyway, I had thought at first that this was some kind of an emotional outburst but later I realized that it was part of a nefarious design being hatched to target my property. Yadav again indulged in unprovoked one-sided shouting at me in August last during which he also threatened to kill me. He claimed that he had the backing of the “president” of the “RWA”. That it was indeed so was confirmed the same evening when this “RWA president”, a man named S.P. Sharma accosted me in the park and threatened to have me beaten up and have garbage dumped in front of my house. Yadav, in his opinion, had been right in threatening to kill me. And this mind you from a president of a body that is supposed to be looking after the welfare of the residents. (The less said about the legality of the RWA the better). Soon, 25 to 30 people who belonged to this group had collected in the park including the son of a policeman who lives opposite my house called Hari Om Sharma (CB-CID of some district in UP) and all of them joined in intimidating me and my wife and one of them was also about to hit me. What wrong had I committed? I had advised the guard not to be rude and intimidating towards residents, particularly the ladies, who were his employers. This group incidentally has people from the administration, lawyers and politicians.
I then lodged a complaint with the police about these serious threats to my life and contacted senior policemen who assured me that the matter would be sorted out to my satisfaction. But see how the administration and police function. Groups of policemen began to visit my house at odd hours, even during my absence and started to intimidate me and my family. And then came the piece de resistance. I was served with a notice by the sub divisional magistrate (SDM) to sign a bond to give an assurance that I would not disturb the peace. Such notices, it is well-known are issued to notorious goondas and gangsters with a history of indulging in violence and disturbing the peace. I have since challenged the notice in court.
Where is the application of the mind? My record speaks for itself and I can hardly be described as a disturber of peace. First of all I am an academic and head of a mass communication department in a leading university in Noida. Most of my time goes in teaching, studies and administrative work. Besides, I don’t even possess a weapon. The biggest irony is that threats are issued to me, but the administration seeks an assurance from me, the victim, that I would not disturb the peace. Neither are any of my family members are a threat to peace. My wife is an artist who organizes exhibitions of her paintings, hardly an activity calculated to disturb the peace. My son is an electrical engineer and a senior executive in a multinational company and my daughter is a research scholar, both responsible members of society. By the way upright IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal had held this same post and had been suspended on July 28, 2013, for being “overactive” against the sand mafia though the reason given by the administration was that she was disturbing communal peace. So those who abide by the law or try to uphold it seem to have become the disturbers of the peace in the eyes of the Uttar Pradesh administration. Or is it that they are a threat to the peace of mind of law breakers? A perfect example of “Andher Nagari Chaupat Raja”?
My advice to working professionals who are planning to invest their hard earned money in property in Noida or Greater Noida, misled perhaps by the charming talk of property developers, to think ten times before they do so. There is a huge gap between the dreams that are sold on hoardings and full front page newspaper advertisements and the ground reality which is dominated by lawlessness. Miscreants have such disdain for police and administration that murders and robberies take place in Greater Noida in broad daylight. The biggest problem is the helplessness of the victims who have no one to turn to for bringing the culprits to book.