At 10:30 am on Friday, some 30 men landed at Sneha's doorstep with three truckloads of garbage. Over the next 45 minutes, they proceeded to dump all the stinking garbage at their home, filling the verandah. Sneha was not at home when the uncouth episode took place, and only her elderly mother and cook were present. Both are shaken up by what happened. The men reportedly told Sneha's neighbours that they had done so at the local corporator Anand Kumar's instructions.

 

Sneha, who is a banking consultant with an IT major says this is most likely the fallout of her effort to ensure segregation of garbage and taking on the system over civic amenities. "Every time I along with other residents tried to streamline the system, the Corporator and the garbage mafia ensured the Bengaluru Municipal body (BBMP) did not support us. Because this was depriving them of their cuts,'' alleges Sneha.

 

Anand Kumar contested the election as an Independent candidate defeating the Congress, BJP and JD(S) candidates from Ward 80 Hoysola Nagar in Indira Nagar area. He decided to support the Congress-JD(S) candidates for mayor and deputy mayor, and in return, he was made the Chairman of the standing committee on social justice.

 

But the Corporator denies he had anything to do with the dumping of the garbage. ``Sneha had a quarrel with one of the Pourakarmikas (sweepers) where she slapped one of them, and in anger, they dumped the garbage in Sneha's home. In fact, when I came to know of it, I warned the sweepers not to indulge in such behaviour,'' says Kumar.

 

Sneha denies any such altercation and Bengaluru's biggest civil society initiative Namma Bengaluru Foundation CEO Sridhar Pabbisetty says the hitting back by slapping an atrocity charge against Sneha is deliberate. ``The sweepers work under the guidance of the executive of the ward and the corporator is the political head. We want the police to examine the evidence available and take action,'' says Pabbisetty. 

 

The confrontation over some issues was brewing for some time. This April, Anand Kumar's men had allegedly tried to chop a 40-year-old African tulip tree, and it was only on the intervention of residents led by Sneha that half the tree could be saved. The police, Sneha claims, was reluctant even to file the complaint given the political clout of the corporator till public pressure had its way.

 

Sneha who admits being the more vocal of the residents in the area, along with others also cleared footpaths and took on commercial establishments that had mushroomed in a largely residential locality. ``We succeeded in removing 24 commercial firms from the area,'' she says. Namma Bengaluru Foundation says it recognises the kind of work put in by Sneha and the team at Indira Nagar to make it a liveable place.

 

What the episode, captured on CCTV shows is that the neta or his cronies will not brook any opposition and if confronted with any, will go all out to teach a lesson. The fact that the garbage was dumped in broad daylight with other residents looking on is a testimony to the brazenness of the political class. It was clearly also intended to send a message to everyone to fall in line or be prepared to face the consequences. The fact that a corporator or sweepers think they can get away with this in a city like Bengaluru, which is home to vibrant and active civil society groups, is shocking.

 

Sneha wrote on her Facebook page that the BBMP officials are in Dussehra break mode and will attend to this only on Thursday. Meanwhile, Bengalureans shocked by the incident are tagging @PMOIndia if this is what he thinks his idea of Swachh Bharat means. But it is perhaps more important to get the Karnataka CM and the Bengaluru Mayor to initiate disciplinary action against Anand Kumar if it is proven he got the dumping done. But in a political situation where every vote matters to get a majority in the BBMP, will Siddaramaiah even entertain the thought.