To those of you who are new to what happened at the Campa Cola Compound in Worli, Mumbai, this link would be of help.
The bull dozer was ready, the policemen were in position and it seemed as if homes would become rubble, dreams destroyed and memories rendered meaningless.
However, the children of Campa Cola maintained their composure and displayed stoicism of an unseen kind. What was seen in myriad movies and clips of passive resistance or Satyagraha was very much in evidence. On the 12th of November,2013,in Mumbai on a November morning. Children, mothers, grandmothers, the sick and the elderly, young men, women, parents all of them with tears streaming, refusing to accept what was to them an unacceptable breach of their property, denial of their rights and a shocking disregard for the human plight.
The policemen in uniform had no choice but to obey the “elected representatives” and do their duty. As force began to be exerted and the bulldozer crushed the gate, it almost looked as if what happened on countless occasions when the British ruled the country as a colony, would be repeated.
But it did not become another Jallianwala Bagh and no one was injured grievously. Almost as if caused by a hand of God, the Supreme Court felt pangs of conscience and ruled that there was a human interest involved and that while the rule of law would have to be implemented, its spirit should not be lost. The demolition was stayed till the end of May 2014! Many relieved souls at the compound would have repeated the proverb, “Bhagwan ke ghar mein der hoga, par andher nahin”.Roughly translated, it would mean "there may be a delay in God’s blessings, but it will always come”. Skeptics would have remarked that the first part of the proverb was quite true of the Indian judicial system, but such thoughts gave way to celebrations and a more positive outlook.
For this writer what was heartening about this whole episode and its positive denouement was the role played by its young denizens. None of this would have been possible if these youngsters had not organized themselves and started a digital campaign to get their voices heard. Instead of lamenting their lot and taking the exit route, they stood their ground and used the long road of winning public opinion in their favor and putting pressure on an administration which seemed intent to render them destitute. Their story is told in this piece from Mumbai Mirror which is one tabloid which seems to be doing a lot more for the Mumbaikars than the entire political class!! From facilities at KEM Hospital which was putting lives of children at risk, pavements which were being encroached, pot holes that kill motorists, to women being molested in trains, it has been a never ending crusade for the journalists of this tabloid!!!
As one resident mentioned, “it was as if my son had grown up overnight”. For these kids it has been a baptism by fire and the good thing is that they seem to be the stronger for it. Steel is always forged in fire and the grit they showed augurs well for all of us if it is something that most of the youngsters of this country possess within themselves.
On this “children’s day I salute these youngsters and many others like the one’s in Delhi and elsewhere who have learned not to accept the status quo, but to protest and fight, not with guns or fists, but with their intellect, skills and inner strength. I had written the first article using the term the “condemned/ cursed” children, but am more than proud and happy to give this the nomenclature of “The Capable Children of Campa Cola Compound”