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Demolition drive in Tughlakabad leaves 1300 residents homeless

G20 summit preparations leave thousands homeless in Delhi

On April 30, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) carried out a demolition campaign in the Tughlakabad Fort area of South Delhi. During the demolition drive, around 1300 illegally occupied houses and slums were demolished with the help of bulldozers.

The security forces of the Delhi Police and Paramilitary Force were deployed in the area to prevent any disturbance during the operation.

Local residents claimed they had built these houses saving money for years, and the demolition not only destroyed their homes but also shattered their hopes of rebuilding in the current era of inflation. The area belongs to Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ramesh Bidhuri.

Migrants face eviction in Delhi

Migrants in Tughlakabad face homelessness amid heavy rain as their houses are demolished due to suspected illegal settlements. Kumkum Kumari, a pregnant resident, expresses her concern for her family’s future after her father spent her life savings building her house.

Ramesh Sharma, who bought land in the area six years ago, alleges a nexus between police, ASI officials and local politicians to allow illegal settlement, which he says he is unaware of.

He said that he paid the officials for the land and now they are kicking him out of his house along with his family.

Several JCB cranes were used to carry out the operation, which was witnessed by residents whose houses were being demolished. More details about the incident are still awaited. One resident expressed despair, saying they had gotten the house in 2019 and were from a poor background.

The community hoped that their settlement would be granted legal status and had even received advance notice, but assumed that the demolition would not take place as previously rumoured. However, this time their houses were destroyed, leaving them homeless.

According to reports, DM, SDM and Police Department officers were present during the tour, and many bulldozers and fire vehicles were used to eliminate the illegal occupation.

The Archaeological Department issued notices in January, instructing people in the area to vacate illegal encroachments. The ASI also posted notices outside some 1,000 houses, stating that they had violated Supreme Court and High Court orders and that they must evacuate immediately, otherwise, demolition measures would be taken against them at their cost and risk.

Illegal demolition displaces marginalized community

Nearly 1,000 houses were demolished in Tughlakabad, leaving some 250,000 residents homeless, including a woman who had lived in her house for more than 30 years. She questioned why government authorities had provided legal documents based on her current address if the houses were illegal.

The displaced residents claimed to have bought the houses by paying money to the police, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the fort authorities. Many had bills and other documentation to show that they had lived at the same address for 20 or 30 years.

Most of the people living in Tughlakabad belong to economically deprived communities and work as domestic servants in wealthy households in the city.

The high court had asked ASI in February to remove unauthorized construction and trespassers from public land, under a 2016 Supreme Court order, and to provide rehabilitation to affected residents.

No alternative living space was provided. The Supreme Court did not stay the demolition, despite a petition from the Jhuggi residents, but agreed to hear the rehabilitation issue on Tuesday.

The situation was further aggravated by heavy rains that hit the area for two days, leaving hundreds of families in dire straits.

SC declines to stay

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to suspend the ongoing demolition campaign in Tughlakabad, in south Delhi, with the aim of eliminating encroachments.

However, it agreed to hear the matter the next day and sent notices to the Center, ASI, DDA and others based on a statement filed by a resident seeking redress for the demolition. The petitioner’s lawyer requested an urgent hearing and requested a provisional suspension of the demolition campaign.

The court refused to grant a stay, stating that it would take up the matter as its first item the following day. In addition, the court suggested informing the competent authorities if the residents planned to move next door to Narela.

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