Debate rages over bulldozing homes in Delhi's Jahangirpuri

Around 12 shops razed, 25 items seized; civic body says demolition drive happens regularly to remove ‘illegal encroachment’, prior notices not necessary

Published: 21st April 2022 07:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2022 07:29 AM   |  A+A-

Public Works Department and Delhi Police in violence-hit Jahangirpuri on Wednesday | parveen negi, ankita upadhyay

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Even though residents in the violence-hit Jahangirpuri watched their means of livelihood brought down to pieces on Wednesday, the BJP-ruled Municipal Corporation (North), which led the demolition, said that it was a “routine” drive and it is the second operation conducted in April and the fourth this year so far.    

Amid heavy police deployment, a team of 70-80 workers led by civic body officials installed seven bulldozers, eight trucks and four mini trucks to carry out the drive at the 2 km-long stretch along a drain at Kushal Chowk. “At least 12 shops, which were temporary structures, were razed including shacks, tenements, stacks of garbage, carts and stalls. Besides this, 25 items were seized and 20 tonnes of garbage was lifted,” said an official.

According to the officials, it was a “routine” drive, which was already planned for the second time during this month to remove encroachments. Many alleged that portions of houses were also razed, however, MCD (North) commissioner Sanjay Goel said that none of the permanent structures were razed and no house was touched. “It was a routine anti-encroachment drive to demolish structures in the right of way; the MCD Act gives us the power to remove encroachments from public land. Previously, a similar drive took place on April 11 this month and two drives were conducted on February 2 and 17 this year. Just because the violence in the area has taken a political colour, it is being given a different context for no reason,” said Goel.

While questions were being raised on the due procedure not being followed by the civic body and prior notices not being given before the demolition, Goel said that no prior notices are required to be given for such regular drives.

Bulldozers being used to remove illegal structures during a joint
anti-encroachment drive by Municipal Corporation (North),

The drive was carried out without notice under sections 321/322/323/325 of the MCD Act, 1957 with prior intimation to local police. “No notice is required to be given under this Act. Who do we give the notice to? All these are illegal structures that come up again each time after they are removed,” said Goel.

While, the civic body planned a three-day drive, a senior civic official said, “Now since the SC has stepped in, we will examine the orders and till then no demolition activity can be carried out in the area.”
The drive comes shortly after the area saw communal clashes last Saturday following a Hanuman Jayanti procession. Just when the riot-hit neighbourhood was just coming to terms with the fear caused by the violence, the massive demolition drive was ordered by the North Corporation mayor Raja Iqbal Singh to remove all encroachments, including of those accused in the violence.

On Tuesday, the assistant commissioner of the Civil Lines zone wrote a letter to DCP northwest requesting at least 400 police personnel to maintain law and order during encroachment removal action which will continue for three days.

TIMELINE
During the drive on April 11, encroachments were removed from blocks B and C of Jahangirpuri and 13 items were seized. On February 17, the drive was carried out in B and C blocks where 5 items were seized. On February 2, drive was conducted from Prayas to Kushal Cinema Road and three items were seized.

Pleas not heard in high court
New Delhi: Pleas against the anti-encroachment drive by Municipal Corporation (North) in violence-hit Jahangirpuri were not taken up for hearing on Wednesday by the Delhi High Court following an order of status quo passed by the Supreme Court concerning the demolition. A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi agreed to list pleas against the drive for hearing during the day and asked the lawyers, who mentioned the cause for urgent listing. 

Sources of livelihood lost, Residents in despair

‘Eid will again be gloomy’
New Delhi: Rahima thought that this year, on Eid, she will bring new clothes for her children and celebrate the festival with her family. However, to her disappointment, this time also, Eid is going to be gloomy. Thanks to the Municipal Corporation (North) who during a demolition drive damaged her tin shed shop which she pitched in front of her house.  Rahima lives in Jahangirpuri along with her husband Akbar and two children– 12-year-old Asif and 16-year-old Rahim. She and her family peeped out of their house and watched the demolition helplessly.  “I asked the police officials and the MCD workers if they were going to go ahead with the demolition but they did not respond to my queries,” said Rahima.  The shop was Rahima’s only source of livelihood. 

‘We are not encroachers’
New Delhi: Ganesh Gupta’s Juice Centre was demolished by the MCD officials on Wednesday.  “I am running from one place to another to show the documents of my shop but the officials are not listening to me,” said Ganesh. He said that the DDA in 1977 allotted the shop to his father who ran the shop after which the son took over.  “I was born and brought up in Delhi. I have seen the area grow and develop in front of me. We are not encroachers,” said Ganesh.  He added, “We are the collateral damage paying for the misdeeds of the rioters.”  He is now planning to go to court against the demolition drive conducted by the officials.  Ganesh has four children including a son who is married and works with him. Ganesh’s sister was also running along with him. 

‘We had no clue about the drive’
New Delhi: 35-year-old Hasina Bibi and her husband Noor Alam’s fodder shop was also demolished in the drive. According to the couple, they have been living in the area since the 1970s and their house was constructed by Noor’s father who was tailor. “I am originally from Nandigram and not from Bangladesh as they are calling us,” Noor said. Noor used to make cow fodder for dairy and cow sheds and the milkmen’s used to take his fodder to feed their cattle’s.  The tin shed where he used to keep the fodder along the stairs, which the family used to reach on the first floor where they live, has been damaged.  According to Bibi, they have faced a loss of around Rs 15,000. “We came to know about this only when the demolition started,” Bibi added.

‘MCD wants to create drama’
New Delhi: Raman Jha’s blue colored “Pan Bhandar” cart was crushed and turned flat. He faced a loss of Rs 30,000 due to the demolition.  “Have you ever seen a bulldozer running over a four-wheeler cart?” asked Raman. Raman who hails from Bihar, along with his wife has been working in Jahangirpuri. “I have five kids and this was the only source of earning for the family. I have been crushed by the dirty politics,” he added.  Expressing his anger, Jha said that this entire act has become a film for media personnels and the MCD also did it to create drama.  I am 52-year-old. I also know what is going on but what can a small man like me do, he asked. Raman’s wife requested the police officials if they can remove their cart somewhere else but the officials did not say anything. 



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