Homes of Poor Razed to Ground in Delhi

On 16 June, at 6 AM, a large police contingent along with Rapid Action Force (RAF) and bulldozers besieged Priyanka Gandhi Camp, a working class colony in South Delhi. About a hundred families who were staying in the area for decades were rendered homeless in minutes - forced to live under the open sky, and without access to food, water, toilet or electricity. The demolition was carried out on the pretext that land was allotted for NDRF headquarters.

Local inhabitants along with AICCTU and AISA activists resisted bulldozers demanding immediate halt on demolition and called for proper rehabilitation. Police unleashed violence against the people and detained several people, including AICCTU activists Akash Bhattacharya and Neha Tiwari. Several people were injured during the police action.

The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) Rules categorically state that any resident of a slum who has been staying in the area from before 2015 cannot be evicted without proper rehabilitation measures being undertaken, and the same has been adopted by the DDA. Moreover, the 2019 Delhi High Court judgement of Ajay Maken vs Union of India states that no one can be evicted without first being provided with rehabilitation. It is up to the DUSIB and the central/state governments to ensure proper in situ rehabilitation.

The right to housing is a major question in urban and semi-urban areas which are growing in numbers and population by the years. The question is significant enough for political parties like the Aam Aadmi Party to make election promises like “Jaha Jhuggi Wahan Makan”. Yet those promises run hollow when it comes to implementation. The Union government, of course, has been running a bulldozer raj as part of its lopsided development policies and its veritable war on the poor and the working people.

Evictions and demolitions of the poor, the hands who keep Delhi running have become a regular pattern in the state. Recently, On May 1, 2023, bulldozers arrived in Tughlakabad to demolish hundreds of homes. Mehrauli, Gyaspur, Batla House, Shakur Basti and many other areas have witnessed demolitions in recent months. The beautification drives due to the upcoming G20 sites, the inadequacies of the Delhi Master Plan 2041, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) vendetta politics, have all come together to displace large numbers of people.

The administration must immediately halt demolitions until a proper rehabilitation plan is implemented. The rampant unleashing of bulldozers on the poor has become a hallmark of Modi govt's anti-people regime.