India/Tsunami Disaster: Dozens injured after police respond with violence to Andaman housing protest
"I saw people who were already injured being dragged out of their hospital beds and temporary shelters and beaten," said a relative of one of the injured.
"This is a sad day for human rights," says Harjeet Singh, head of ActionAid's Andaman and Nicobar team. "Such violence is inexcusable."
Over a thousand women and men took to the streets on the remote island of Little Andaman, a 6-10 hour journey by boat from the administrative centre Port Blair, on Thursday demanding that Government consult them regarding plans for housing construction.
Still in temporary accomodation - two years later
Almost two years after the tsunami disaster, over 10,000 families are still living in temporary shelters in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Government of India is planning to build the same number of new homes.
But islanders say the homes are being built far from their livelihoods and the prefabricated design means they cannot repair them.
Police responded violently after a bottle was reportedly thrown in what had been a peaceful demonstration marked by people offering themselves for arrest.
Wake up call
ActionAid and partners, who have been working with tsunami affected communities in five countries since the disaster struck, have been advocating that that new homes should meet local needs.
"You can't hope to build 10,000 houses without addressing residents' basic concerns such as whether it will accommodate their family unit or be close enough to the sea to continue their fishing activities," said Harjeet Singh
"Best practice in disaster response is for affected communities to be involved in decisions that affect their lives. Sadly, in this case best practice has not been followed and with tragic results."
"I only hope this acts as a wake up call for all those involved in disaster response to place the rights of survivors at the centre in relief and reconstruction efforts," he adds.
ActionAid has been consulting communities across the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to understand what the likely impact of government re-housing plans will be on their traditional way of life.