NEW DELHI: A political slugfest ensued Monday on the death of a six-month-old child during the slum demolition drive carried out by the railways over the weekend. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who visited the demolished slum cluster, held both the Centre and the Delhi government responsible for the tragedy while Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the grand old party and the Union government of being ‘partners in the business of land grabbing’. Not stopping at that, he called Rahul a kid.
The AAP also protested in Parliament after the Speaker rejected its adjournment motion. The AAP members, supported by Trinamool Congress MPs, also staged a demonstration at the Gandhi statue outside Parliament. Amid the protests, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu clarified in Parliament that the child had died before the demolition began.
The day started with Rahul’s visit to Shakurbasti in West Delhi where 500 slum dwellings were razed down Saturday. “Modi sarkar and Kejriwal sarkar are responsible for what has happened. But now, they are busy blaming each other. Instead, they should provide help to the people who have been displaced & rehabilitate them,” he later tweeted. He further asked the displaced to call him whenever a slum was about to be demolished and promised to won’t let such a thing happen. His comments evoked sharp reaction from Kejriwal. “Rahul Gandhi is still a child. His party probably did not tell him Railways comes under the Central government, and not under the government of Delhi,” he quipped. Kejriwal later met Suresh Prabhu.
As allegations flew thick and fast, the Railway Minister clarified in the Lok Sabha, “As per report from the Northern Railway, the child, alleged to have died during the encroachment removal drive, had expired much before the encroachment removal had commenced, as confirmed from Delhi Police records.” Describing the encroachment as a safety hazard, he said: “These encroachments have become a source of impediment in development of new passenger terminal and other facilities at Shakurbasti.”
Meanwhile, a case of death due to negligence was registered against unknown persons on the basis of the statement of the infant’s father. The postmortem report said the girl had died of shock and injuries on chest and head due to the impact of blunt force around 9.30 am. The demolition began at noon.