Slum Demolition Leaves Hundreds Homeless in Delhi’s Shanty Town

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Hundreds of huts, made with cement sheets, were razed to ground with JCBs during a slum demolition that took place at Batla House Dhobi Ghat on the banks of Yamuna in New Delhi on Thursday noon. — Photos: Clarion India

GROUND REPORT

Slum demolition has left all the residents without a roof. A few of them have tried to rent a house at the nearby location. However, every one among them cannot afford the cost

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — “Everybody comes asking after everything is gone. What’s the use of it?” wonders 45-year-old Ajmeri with agony while gathering her belongings to transport to a different location. A JCB was digging up the land to lift the debris nearby and the supervisor was asking them to make haste.

Hundreds of huts, made with cement sheets, were razed to ground with JCBs during a slum demolition that took place at Batla House Dhobi Ghat on the banks of Yamuna on Thursday noon.

Dhobi Ghat, a Muslim-populated slum of hundreds of small huts, surrounded by tall buildings on one side and the vast Yamuna on the other. Locals, while trying to find their belongings, complain that they were not given enough time to vacate their houses or to move their household materials to a different location.

Women, children and men were seen to be sitting sadly by the leftovers of their houses. Slum demolition has left all the residents without a roof. A few of them have tried to rent a house at the nearby location. However, every one among them cannot afford the cost.

Demolition squad came with several policemen and paramilitary personnel along with 3 JCBs and 3 trucks.

Salman, a 19-year-old boy who wins his bread through tailoring told Clarion India that officials came with several policemen and paramilitary personnel along with 3 JCBs and 3 trucks. The officials of the electricity board also accompanied the authorities to collect electricity meters of the demolished houses.

The local police detained a couple of individuals as they were resisting the sudden move of the authorities. Thirty-year-old Anwari Khatoon told Clarion India that she was not even offered water to drink the entire day during her detention.

“You speak a lot, that’s why we picked you up (Tumhari Zuban Bahut Chalti hai, Isliye Utha Laye Tumko”, Anwari quoted a policewoman.

A poor resident of the area shows his injured finger while narrating the ordeal of demolition.

The hasty move of the authorities injured a couple of individuals. Ajmeri said that a life-size iron almirah fell on his son leading to internal injuries.

Another 50-year-old labourer, Iqrar Husain, was injured as the broken glass from the almirah fell on his foot leading to 6 stitches and three others in one of the fingers.

The police refused to provide any medical aid to the injured persons.

A woman claims that she was unable to take out her domestic goods before the JCB mowed down her house. Her entire ration and food items are buried under the debris of the hutment, leaving her helpless and incapable of arranging food for her kids.

Residents of Batla House Dhobi Ghat, a Muslim-populated slum of hundreds of small huts, surrounded by tall buildings on one side and the vast Yamuna on the other, were not given enough time to vacate their houses or to move their household materials to a different location.

Individuals at the demolished place do not claim the ownership of the land. Yet, they said that they had been residing there for more than 20 years.

However, at a different block of the land, which shows the board of the Delhi Development Authority, (DDA) residents claimed the ownership of the land and said that they had purchased it with the ‘general power of attorney’. “I have sold my wife’s ornaments to purchase this plot. I have all the papers”, said Furquan Ahmad, a 60-year-old who also owns a shop of photocopy in the nearby neighbourhood, ready to fight back in the court.

The M-Block residents were also verbally told to vacate the land on Thursday, claims Furquan Ahmad. He said, “We have never come to know who owns the land. We purchased from the locals and farmers”.

All hutments at Batla House Dhobi Ghat were razed giving tough time to the residents who also reportedly lost their valuables.

“It is not an encroachment. We have paid for the plot”, said Akhtar Ali, another resident fearing demolition. Refusing the idea of the compensation, his son Anwar Ali said, “We want the ownership of this land only. No one cares about the compensation in any form”.

Apart from the fear of the demolition of the hutments, residents have to face constant trouble of a mysterious fire frequently breaking out in the area.

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