New Delhi: Puppeteers and folk artists residing for decades at a designated colony here Sunday refused to heed an official order to vacate their homes from Monday and shift to a new site.
Leaders of the community told the media that there was no question of leaving Kathputli Colony whose land has been sold by the authorities to a private realtor to build flats.
According to a plan of 2009, the artist community residing in west Delhi will be shifted temporarily to camps in Anand Parbhat, about four kilometres away, from Monday until the flats got ready.
"We have worked hard to educate our children. The government should understand that our children`s futures will be at stake if we are evicted from Kathputli Colony," said colony leader Dilip Bhat.
Bhat said they were being lied to over land issues and told that no land was available for them.
"Why then did the DDA auction off our land to Raheja Builders for just Rs.6.11 crore? Why is police being used to terrorize us? Why is the government not working in our favour?" he asked.
Islam Azard, leader of the Bihari Samaj, said it was a "disgrace" that ordinary people have to face such hardships.
"We do not want to go to a transit camp. We want the government to ensure that we are given plots on this land," he said.
Lending support to the residents is Sunita Kumari, an Aam Aadmi Party leader who urged politicians to support the puppeteers and others.
"I will be with you if the bulldozers come to Kathputli Colony. We will make sure that people are not forced out of their homes and the government listens to them," she said.
Dunu Roy, director of Hazards Centre, said there were several irregularities in the PPP signed between the Delhi Development Authority and the private builder which will be raised in the high court.
"The land has been developed by the residents of Kathputli Colony and they should have been compensated according to market rates," he said.
"The DDA auctioned off the land worth Rs.1,043 crore for just Rs.6.11 crore. This is a clear sign of corruption in land and real estate," added Roy.
Last week, the residents of the colony met Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and urged him to cancel the impending eviction.