The demolition squad on Thursday demolished over 55 shanties on Bhairon Singh Marg, near Pragati Maidan on Thursday morning as part of an anti-encroachment drive, displacing more than 40 families. Residents say they woke up to the rumble of JCBs around 4 am and were shocked to see people preparing to take their houses down.
The authorities have been conducting anti-encroachment drives across the national capital ahead of the G20 summit to be held in the city later this year. Security personnel were deployed on Bhairon Marg to prevent any confrontation, they said.
A makeshift school which was being run by an NGO for the last nine years was also demolished in the drive. “Around 30 students studied in the school. Children of slum dwellers use to attend classes here after their school hours. Children from 5 to 16 years old used to regularly visit the school where they were also trained in arts and skill development,” said the residents. They said the notice they were issued did not mention school demolition.
The slum dwellers who were seen sifting through the rubble to salvage any belongings said they had been asking the government to allot them an alternate place somewhere within 5 km radius. “When they want our votes, they come to us and talk about big things but now when we are displaced and have nowhere to go, they couldn’t care less...,” said angry residents.
“We were sleeping in our shanties. It was around 4 am, when these people came with JCB machines and other equipment to demolish our homes. We pleaded with them to not demolish our homes, but they said they had the legal right to do so … We lost all our belongings, our furniture, vessels, books of our children … we lost it all,” said another resident.