They demanded that there should be no forced eviction, and there should be proper housing and the dwellers should be given land titles
Waquar Hasan | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – A CPI (Marxist-Leninist) leader and five slum dwellers on Monday went on a ‘warning hunger strike’ for 48 hours to oppose the Central government’s decision to demolish 48,000 jhuggis (shanties) along railway tracks in Delhi.
CPI(ML) Delhi Unit’s secretary Ravi Rai, who is sitting on the hunger strike in Wazipur slum, told Clarion India that they had now organised only a 48-hour fast to highlight their demands before the government, adding that if the government did not accept their demands, they would start an agitation for their demands.
“We want the government to come up with a solution for this issue. It must guarantee the rehabilitation for those whose houses are being demolished. The rehabilitation should be in the nearby areas in a 5-km radius. We are demanding it from the state as well as the Central government,” said Rai.
Apart from Rai, Shakuntala Devi, Sita Devi, Rameshwari Devi, Rinku and Sita (all residents of Wazirpur Slum) are also on hunger strike. They demanded that there should be no forced eviction, and there should be proper housing and the dwellers should be given land titles.
On August 31, the Supreme Court had ordered removal of around 48,000 slum dwellings within three months and said no political interference would be entertained in the matter.
On Monday, the Central government, in a response to a petition filed in the apex court, said it was not demolishing the jhuggis currently and would come up with a solution in weeks. However, petitioner Congress leader Ajay Maken’s counsels said that the government had already started demolishing jhuggis.
“Further, while doing so they have circumvented the established procedures by law with respect to rehabilitation of the slum dwellers prior to eviction/demolition of their jhuggis and displayed their ignorance of the procedure enshrined in the Delhi Slum & JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015 and the Protocol (for removal of jhuggis),” said the application.
Reacting to the government’s assurance, Rai said “The slum dwellers have a right to housing near the place of their present residence. The government’s so-called assurance of no demolition for four weeks is an eye-wash. We demand complete revocation of the demolition order and housing for all slum dwellers near the place of present residence along with land titles”.
Shakuntala Devi, who has been staying in the Wazirpur Slum for the past 28 years, said, “We have been staying here for a long time now. We work in the city. The government should tell us where we will stay if our house is demolished.”
Sita Devi, staying in the slum for the past 22 years, said, “We have not been given a pucca house till now by the government and now they are trying to demolish our jhuggis. Will they give us a house in the next four weeks when they have not given in the last 22 years?”.
In a press statement, the CPI (ML) said “The lockdown and the pandemic have destroyed livelihood of the poor and workers of Delhi. The miseries of the slum dwellers and the migrant workers have been witnessed by the entire country. And in this situation, the order to demolish jhuggis is utterly inhumane”.
“Since the order of demolition has come, the Railways have been putting up eviction notices in different slums” noted the party in its statment.