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Priyanka Gandhi Camp Demolition: Bulldozing Drive Continues in Delhi

Neelam Gaur |
The capital has been seeing ruthless displacement of working people. Friday’s demolition at Priyanka Gandhi camp in an affluent area has left hundreds of working people homeless.
Priyanka Gandhi Camp Demolition: Bulldozing Drive Continues in Delhi

New Delhi: On June 16, a demolition drive was carried out by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Priyanka Gandhi camp located near Vasant Vihar, an affluent South Delhi locality. The demolition has resulted in the displacement of approximately 97 families, leaving more than 500 people on the road.

As per the notice issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on May 19, the land is the property of NDRF.  Friday’s demolition drive was carried out collaboratively by the Delhi Police, National Disaster Management and Response Centre (NDMRC), and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).  

Several locals told NewsClick that they had all the official documents, including Aadhar card, voter ID card and the zero balance account number (Jan Dhan scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for lower income families) along with electricity bills to prove the legality of the place.

However, in its notice, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs deemed these houses as illegal and conveyed that the land belongs to NDRF. The operation commenced at 6 a.m, but according to the locals, the forces were present in the area as early as 3 a.m.

The Gharelu Kaamkaji Mahila Sangahan (GKMS), a prominent union with substantial presence in the locality, was present at the site when the demolition began.

As the police tried to carry out the demolition and control the crowd, there were several instances of confrontation between the union members, locals, and the police. As a result, three activists, namely Roshni, the president of GKMS (who is also a resident of this camp), Neha Bora, and Aakash from the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), were detained.

Looking at her belongings that were lying on the road, Sunita(33), who has been residing in the camp since she was 14, broke down several times.

“With limited income, I had managed to build a new room in our two- room house for my daughter so that she could study. Now this demolition has added a new worry to our already burdened life. With our income now being spent on rent, how will we be able to provide food for our family? Moreover, what about our children's education?" she said tearfully. Sunita has a family of six members.

Delhi has witnessed a series of demolitions over the past two years, leaving thousands of citizens homeless and hungry. According to a study conducted by Land Conflict Watch, approximately 260,000 people in the capital have become homeless as a result of these demolition drives.


Rekha, who is associated with GKMS, spoke about the “political apathy” of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) here with whom, she claimed, the locals and union members had been in contact.  According to her, Delhi Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj had assured them that the AAP-led Delhi government would oppose the demolition. However, she expressed disappointment that no action was taken.

“We are pained to see the apathy of political parties toward the working people in the capital. Bhardwaj did give us some time and heard us out. He assured us that he would oppose this decision, but nothing happened”, said Rekha.

She also alleged that Pramila Tokas, the area MLA, did not meet the people from the camp despite multiple attempts to contact her. Newsclick also tried getting in touch with the local MLA, but all calls went unanswered.

Beena, another worker affected by the demolition, told NewsClick about the difficulties associated with living in DUSIB (Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board) homes. She claimed these shelters were not suitable for families to live in, citing concerns about safety, particularly of women.

When contacted, P K Jha, Director of DUSIB, refused to comment on the status of shelter homes.

According to the policy announced by DUSIB in 2015, any Jhuggi Jhopri (JJ) cluster that existed prior to 2006, and whose residents possessed relevant documents dated before 2015, should have the right to a dignified settlement. However, in the case of eviction at the Priyanka Gandhi camp, this provision was not implemented, and the affected residents did not receive the dignified settlement they were entitled to under the policy.


With regards to this matter, a case titled "Priyanka Gandhi Camp Adhikar Manch vs. the National Disaster Response Force and others" is currently being heard in the Delhi High Court.

Kawal Preet Kaur from Human rights Law Network, who is serving as a legal counsel for the locals in this case, said, “Initially, a list of 82 JJ clusters (Jhuggi Jhopri clusters) was released along with the previous list, which mentions 675 JJ clusters as recognised ones. This meant that if any eviction were to occur, the residents of these clusters would be entitled to a dignified resettlement. The Priyanka Gandhi camp was included in this list. However, during the court proceedings, the government decided to withdraw the list, thereby leaving the residents without any rights to a settlement”, she told NewsClick.

She deemed this decision as “unjust and arbitrary”, showing the Indian judiciary’s insensitivity regarding working class communities.

The date of hearing has been moved to August 3, 2023.

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