Over 700 people in Delhi’s Batla House – a predominantly Muslim populated area – have been reportedly rendered homeless after a slum clearance drive by the authorities. The residents of the slum colony consist of domestic and daily wage workers, among the worst hit section amid a pandemic and a rapidly contracting economy.
The slum clearance procedure began on September 22, however, no notices were served to people and no alternate site was designated for their rehabilitation, the residents of the area claimed.
Speaking to NewsClick. Shakeel, a vegetable seller and a resident of the slum, said, “They came out of nowhere. No one knew what is going on, anybody who was asking what is going on was being shunned away. I saw many being lathicharged and two people were taken away by the police and detained. My house is currently still standing but I am very worried because I know they are likely to come back to clear out the rest of the site.”
The area had been at the centre of the infamous encounter in 2008, post which it has been reduced to a ghetto. Since then, the area has been facing a number of issues including the lack of basic civic amenities and neglect from the administration.
Razina Khatun, a domestic worker who lives with her children in the area, said, “We had voted Kejriwal to power. The government had promised no such sudden demolition drives and a housing for all. But, this is the reality of that promise. Where do I take my children now in the middle of the pandemic? We are anyway out of work, with all resources dried up, now my only refuge-- my house is also being taken away.”
A team of students from Jamia Millia Islamia, which is located in the area, had visited the neighbourhood following the demolition drive. The students told NewsClick that this is a case of complete demolition and no rubble is left on the site from what they gathered. The students are now working towards rehabilitating the people in a school.
Arbab a member of AISA, Jamia Millia Islamia said, “Our review found that there was no communication or notice served to the people, the legality of the matter is still unclear and vague.”
The demolition drive comes in the wake of several demolition drives carried out in various slums of Delhi by the government.