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Sundar Nursery Slum: As Bulldozers Roll, Homeless Families Spend Cold Nights in the Open

Nazma Khan |
“My daughter missed her exam… this government spends so much on various places but has made us sit on the roads”.
demolition near Sunder nursery

Finally, the bulldozers rolled on the Sunder Nursery slums near DPS Mathura Road in Nizamuddin in Central Delhi. After the Delhi High Court order, notices were plastered in the slums on November 18.  On Thursday, the area was unrecognisable, with debris lying everywhere.

A little girl was seen looking after her seven-month-old younger sister on a mat on the roadside, while the mother packed household items and brought them over. This single mother was asked to vacate her slum on Wednesday night. She moved to the streets with her two children.  When NewsClick asked her where she would go now, she said, “I don’t know where to go with my children. I am not getting a house on rent either.”

The noise of the JCB machines was drowning the sound of women and children crying, sobbing, and complaining, with many claiming that they had been living here for the past many years and had all the required documents. The court, however, declared the slums as “illegal encroachments”.

demolition near Sunder Nursery

Among a group of women sitting on the roadside with their belongings was one Hazra Khatoon. The group had spent the night in the open. Ashes from the bonfire that they had lit to keep themselves warm could be seen. NewsClick had met Hazra on November 19, who had pleaded, "Please somehow convey our message to the government so that we can get some help." She said she was ill.  When asked where she would go, she started crying and said, "We have taken a very small room on rent for Rs. 5,000. I don't know where we will fit it, how will I keep my things?"

People were seen piling their household items on e-rickshaws, carts, and also carrying them on their heads. An teary elderly woman said, “Where will the poor man go?”

An angry Hina said, "We have a family of 12 people, we are sleeping on the roadside, our belongings are also lying here. They have destroyed our homes?”

Nazmul, who was also seen sitting on the roadside with family and luggage, said, "I have been here with my family of four for two days. At least four or five families from my street are also here.  With great difficulty we took out some of our belongings. Weh have lived here for years. These people created such a stampede-like situation without any reason. This was a DUSIB (Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement) registered housing area. They ignored the laws applicable to the DUSIB survey. We aren’t getting houses on rent. In nearby areas, a single-room house with rent of Rs 3,000-4,000 is today worth Rs 12,000/month. That too with a common bathroom. That too is not available. Don't know where to go.”

An angry woman said, “This government talks about ‘Jahan Jhuggi Wahan Makan” (a house to replace a slum) and “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” (Save the girl child, educate her), but it has brought our daughters out on the streets.”

demolition near sunder nursery

Another weeping woman said her small children missed their exams because of the demolitions. One studies in Class 2 and the other in Class 5. “The rent is Rs 10,000/month. How will we pay as there is only one breadwinner in our family of four?”, she added.

The women were seen consoling each other. Shabnam, whose children also missed their exams, said, “One of my daughters is in Class 12 class in DPS. She has been upset since the past four days.  The other daughter is in college. Both are now on the streets.”

Another woman, crying uncontrollably, said, ''My daughter did not go to give her paper, she missed her paper, she is in Class 6. Our children are hungry and thirsty. This government spends so much everywhere but no arrangement has been made for us.”

Several uprooted families questioned how their names were in the voters’ list if their homes were ‘illegal”. They said they had all the documents to prove the registration of their homes. They were also getting electricity and water supply.

The entire area was looking like rubble, with school textbooks, utensils, clothes, school bags and toys strewn all over. In one fell swoop, the nests of the poor had been destroyed and their lives had become part of the streets of the Capital city.

Nirmal Gorana, convener of Mazdoor Awas Sangharsh Samiti, told NewsClick, "This eviction has caused huge destruction. One expected sensitivity and relief to the poor from the court and the government, but this is not being seen in many recent eviction cases. This means that human rights are being ignored even by the courts, which is a bitter truth. The government should immediately provide shelter to the evicted families and make arrangements for their rehabilitation, otherwise injustice will be done to the last person.”

(Compressed version of the report published on our Hindi website)

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