NEW DELHI: Facing criticism over its demolition drive in violence-hit Jahangirpuri, the BJP-ruled North Delhi Municipal Corporation on Wednesday termed it a routine exercise in which around two-kilometre stretch was cleared from encroachments and said squatters were also removed from the same area on April 11 this year.
Days after Jahangirpuri was rocked by communal violence, bulldozers rolled into the troubled area on Wednesday morning and tore down several structures close to a mosque as part of an anti-encroachment drive by the civic body.
A young boy collecting coins and juice tetra packs after his father’s juice shop was demolished. They suffered a loss of at least Rs 20,000. The family later collected the remaining stuff. # pic.twitter.com/3O9MscjUs7— Ankita Upadhyay (@ankitaup) April 20, 2022
In an official statement issued in the evening, the civic body said that its officials removed temporary kiosks on the pavements and ramps with the help of seven JCB machines/bulldozers in the heavy police presence.
"About two kilometres of road near Kushal cinema were cleared from encroachment. As many as 25 items were seized and 20 tonnes of garbage was lifted. The encroachment was removed by the licensing department, engineering department, enforcement cell and health department of Civil Lines as a joint team," the civic body said in the statement.
It also said that similar actions for removal of encroachments were carried out in the past as well. "Two encroachment drives were conducted in Jahangirpuri on February 2 and 17 and one on April 11 this year to remove illegal possession in the same area.
Such anti-encroachment drives on public roads is done regularly in all wards by North DMC with/without notice under sections 321/322/323/325 of the MCD Act, 1957 with prior intimation to local police," the statement said.
Politics erupted over the demolition drive, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi calling it "state-sponsored targeting of poor and minorities". CPM leader Brinda Karat, who visited the area with the court order to stop the NDMC action, was livid.
"The Supreme Court ordered status quo at 10:45 am. Our lawyers Kapil Sibal and Dushyant Dave mentioned it before the court. I have come to stop this demolition....to stop the authorities from tearing the Supreme Court order to shreds (dhajjiyan udane se rokne aayi hoon)," she said.
According to the civic body's statement, the today's action was an attempt to clear pedestrian walkways and roads from encroachments to ease the traffic and pedestrian movement. It said that during the drive 12 heavy vehicles were deployed, along with 70-80 officials of the civic body and sufficient police force.