Tughlakabad Residents Protest Against Demolition, Call out AAP and BJP for Ignoring Their Concerns
Fourteen-year-old Muskan should have been in school today. However, she is standing in front of media persons with her notebook.
She was speaking with the media about how the demolition at Tughlakabad not only took her family's normalcy but also took away her daily routine, including school. Muskan is studying in the 10th class and is a student at Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya government school in Tughlakabad.
Speaking with NewsClick, she said that most students from the region had not attended the school since their homes had been demolished in the demolition drive carried out by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and DDA (Delhi Development Authority).
"I have not gone to school since the demolition took place. Most of my books, including other household stuff, have got buried under the debris. All my friends from the area are also not attending schools," Muskan said.
Today, on May 15, a protest was organised at the Jantar Mantar by the residents of Tughlakabad to demand alternate housing and proper rehabilitation. The protest was organised by the Mazdoor Awas Sangharsh Samiti.
This protest is one of the series of protests that have been taking place since the notice of eviction was served to the residents of Tughlakabad. As previously reported, the ASI conducted a demolition campaign in the area during the initial week of May, leaving thousands of residents homeless without providing any rehabilitation measures.
This action was in response to a February directive from the Delhi High Court, instructing the ASI to remove unauthorised structures and encroachers from the "public land" following a 2016 Supreme Court order to cease land grabbing and encroachment in Tughlakabad.
Muskan's mother, Suman, has actively participated in the ongoing protests following the Tughlakabad demolition. She accompanied her daughter today to highlight the immense distress experienced by school-going children. During an interview with NewsClick, Suman emphasised the safety concerns women face in the area, as they have started feeling vulnerable since their homes were destroyed.
"I had to send my daughter to a relative's place because I cannot expose her to everyone while I am out for work. All the women you meet here will tell you how much we are distressed about our daughters' safety," Suman explained.
She also referred to the famous slogan of Prime Minister Modi, "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter).
According to her, if the government genuinely cares about the safety of its daughters, it should have provided alternative housing for families before demolishing their homes.
"The slogan appears hollow to us now. Neither the Prime Minister nor any other politician truly cares about the daughters of the poor. Otherwise, many women wouldn't be forced to spend their days and nights on open grounds. Can't they see us?" she added.
Sapna Dam(52) had come here with all the official papers. She was carrying the PM-Uday receipt, a policy that PM Narendra Modi launched before the 2019 election. The scheme aims to regularise the unauthorised areas in the capital and grant ownership rights to the residents.
During a conversation with NewsClick, Sucheda De from the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) expressed her views on the ongoing demolition drives in the capital.
According to her, the government has launched a war against the poor in the capital city. She mentioned that the PM had promoted the slogan of "Jahan Jhuggi Vahi Makan" (where there is a slum, there will be a house) before the election, but after coming into power, the same government demolishes several areas in Delhi.
De also raised questions about the status of MP Ramesh Bidhur's house near the fort. She pointed out that no houses belonging to the MP or his associates have been affected.
On the political front, both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have remained silent on the demolition issue. According to the residents, AAP's cabinet minister Atishi Marlena was in continuous contact with them and had promised protection, but the AAP office had taken no action.
At one point from the stage, Kanika Das (evicted resident) alleged that Modi's BJP and Arvind Kejriwal AAP had misled them regarding their protection. Overwhelmed with emotion, she almost cried while expressing her disappointment. According to her, AAP was a party that spoke about the people living in slums and unauthorised colonies, but they are nowhere to be seen now.
"We are AAP's voters. We gave them the mandate twice; that's how they acquired power. While our children sit in this scorching heat amidst the rubble, no politician is present in our area," she claimed.
Das further accused the representatives of not providing humanitarian assistance to the residents through food and water. She mentioned that not a single water tank had been sent to their area by any of the representatives. Despite the scorching heat in Delhi, the residents have been deprived of even a drop of water.
Nirmal Gorana from Mazdoor Awas Sangharsh Samiti, who has been supporting the residents in their struggle for rehabilitation, stated that the fight for providing rehabilitation would continue until the residents receive the necessary support. The residents have also decided to continue their hunger strike in Tughlakabad and plan further protests at Jantar Mantar in the coming days.
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