Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Slumdog child actor is left homeless after bulldozers move in

"Slumdog Millionaire" child star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, right, drives a bicycle past demolished shanties in his neighborhood in Mumbai, India, Thursday, May 14, 2009. City workers bulldozed the home of Azharuddin Thursday as part of the demolition of dozens of shanties in a Mumbai slum.(AP Photo/Gautam Singh)

Workers bulldozed the home of a Slumdog Millionaire child star yesterday as part of the demolition of dozens of shanties in a Mumbai slum.

Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail was asleep when a police officer woke him up and told him to leave his family’s home, he said.

Shortly after that the shack and about 30 more were destroyed.

“A police officer took a bamboo stick to hit me and I was frightened,” said 10-year-old Azhar.

Authorities say his family will be given a new home elsewhere.

Eight Oscars and million in box office receipts have so far done little to improve the lives of the film’s two impoverished child stars, Azhar and Rubina Ali — who were plucked from the slum to star in the blockbuster.

Yesterday city workers flanked by policemen arrived as part of a slum demolition drive — common in India’s chaotic cities where officials struggle to keep crowding under control.

“They didn’t give prior notice. We didn’t even get a chance to take out our belongings,” said Shameem Ismail, Azhar’s mother, who has lived in the shanty town for more than 15 years. She has no legal right to the land.

UD Mistry, an official with the city’s Bombay Municipal Corporation, said the razing was part of a pre-monsoon demolition drive.

He said only illegally built shanties — not legally-owned homes — were bulldozed.

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