In Pictures: Demolition in Delhi’s Dhaula Kuan Leaves Hundreds Homeless, Sparks Public Uproar
Photo by Kamran Yousuf
In a terrible turn of events, the Public Works Department (PWD) bulldozed shanties in Delhi's Dhaula Kuan neighbourhood on Saturday, displacing hundreds of residents and igniting protests and resentment among the community. The police were called to the area to maintain order and ensure everyone's safety.
The police surveying the remains of demolished shanties at Dhaula Kuan.
The people who were forcibly removed from their homes were seen to be in a desperate situation right after the destruction, which raised questions about the promises made to slum dwellers by the government.
At the site of demolition in Dhaula Kuan.
Testimonies of Eyewitnesses
Sona, a 25-year-old witness to the destruction, expressed her wrath and opposition, saying, "We are willing to give our lives but refuse to leave this place. How are they helping those who are less fortunate? There is no food here. We demand the return of our houses."
A family attempting to salvage their possessions following the demolition.
Another distressed resident, Samintra, spoke of the problems her family was facing: "We have been living here for the past 20 years. Our children do not have food to eat. We were not allowed to take our belongings or prepare food. We do not have a place to reside and are terrified," she said.
A family seeks temporary shelter under a tarpaulin sheet following the slum demolition.
Hukum, a long-time resident here, said that the police arrived last night and told the residents that the slums would be razed. "My children, one three-year-old and 13 years old, have nowhere to go. We are going to return to our hometown. Since they destroyed our homes at six o'clock this morning, we have been without food," he said.
Locals and residents voiced their anger and disappointment with the government, bringing up the broken election-related promises. "Jahan Jhuggi Wahan Makan" (where there is a slum, there will be a house) was a campaign promise made by both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for slum inhabitants. Under this programme, the Delhi government even issued certificates assuring citizens of their right to decent housing. Nevertheless, the demolition went ahead despite these assurances, displacing hundreds of people and raising doubts about the leaders' intentions.
Debris lies around following the demolition.
A local resident, Ram Sati, expressed his disappointment, saying, "PWD authorities promised to build good dwellings for us instead of shanties, but they destroyed our homes. They are evicting us despite the fact that we have lived here for the past 30 years. We demand that the government give us a place to dwell. We will perish here without escaping," he said.
A displaced person seeking solace at a public park after their shanty was demolished.
Another victim, Bharati Dewai, expressed her grief by saying, "They destroyed our homes without giving us advance notice or allowing us to take our possessions. We only encounter politicians during election seasons. They do not give a damn about us; they live in air-conditioned chambers. They forbade me from taking my possessions," he said.
The demolition has left the 200 or so people in Dhaula Kuan without a place to live, food to eat, or hope.
At the site of demolition.
Locals claimed that warnings to leave the region had previously been issued numerous times, which complicated the matter even further. However, confusion ensued when Manish Sisodia, former minister and AAP leader reportedly gave PWD the order not to tear down the shanties. Despite this directive, the demolition took place, confounding the people and casting doubt on the coordination and effectiveness of the administration.
As the protests continue and the public outrage grows, it is uncertain how the government will respond to the requests of the affected residents and address the structural issues that led to this occurrence. While they wait for justice and a glimmer of hope in their fight for a respectable life, people who have lost their houses are left with no clue of what will become of them.
A family takes shelter in a park following the demolition.
NewsClick tried to reach the Delhi Government for their comment on this demolition drive, however, failed to elicit a response.
All photos by Kamran Yousuf.
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