Shakur Basti demolition: Case lodged in toddler's death; slugfest between political parties intensifies
A case of death due to negligence has been lodged by police probing loss of life of a toddler in a West Delhi slum cluster.
New Delhi: A case of death due to negligence has been lodged by police probing loss of life of a toddler in a West Delhi slum cluster demolished by Railways even as political slugfest over it intensified on Monday with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asserting that no such razing will be allowed without rehabilitation.
Stepping into the demolition row, the Delhi High Court came down heavily on the Railway Ministry and police for razing the slum cluster and directed the authorities to immediately rehabilitate over 5,000 people rendered homeless in this biting cold.
Amid AAP's offensive against the Centre and Rahul Gandhi, Kejriwal held a 30-minuted meeting with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu where ways to remove encroachment of land belonging to the railways was discussed threadbare.
As the slum dwellers braved cold and hunger, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi descended at the demolition site and targeted both AAP government and the Centre and assured the homeless that he will fight their "battle".
The post mortem report of the six-month-old girl said she died due to shock and injuries on chest and head due to impact of blunt force and mentioned about fractures in ribs and head.
The report said the toddler died 30 hours before the autopsy indicating she might have died around 9.30 AM.
Though the Railways maintained that the toddler died two hours before the demolition drive began at Shakur Basti on Saturday noon, the parents of the child blamed the authorities for creating a situation leading to her death.
Mohammad Anwar, father of the toddler, said he would not have lost Rukaiya had the officials involved in the demolition given the family a little more time to pack their essentials.
"They might register a case of negligence but the fact is they came all of a sudden. The moment we heard the ominous sound of the bulldozers we started packing to rescue whatever little we could around 10 AM. Little did we realise that something had fallen on her," Anwar said.
Taking a strong view on the demolition, a bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vibhu Bakhru said this is a "pathetic act" as "peoples' lives are involved and we cannot be so casual".
Meanwhile, police probing the toddler's death, said a case of death due to negligence against unknown persons have been registered at Punjabi Bagh police station on the basis of statement of her father.
"The case has been registered under Section 304 A (causing death due to negligence) at Punjabi Bagh police station," said Pushpendra Kumar, DCP (West).
According to police, Anwar, in a statement said a tied bundle of clothes fell down on the girl sleeping on the floor as the family was in a hurry to vacate their shanty.
As AAP government sharpened its attack on the Centre for death of the child and leaving hundreds homeless in biting cold, Gandhi visited the site and wondered why the Kejriwal dispensation was protesting despite ruling the city and assured the homeless that he will fight their "battle".
"Modi sarkar and Kejriwal sarkar are responsible for what has happened. But now they are busy blaming each other.
Instead they should provide help to the people who have been displaced & rehabilitate them," Gandhi said on Twitter.
Resolving to fight for the poor, Gandhi told the homeless, "Whenever a slum is about to be demolished, call Rahul Gandhi. He won't let this happen. We will try to help you. As you know we are not in the government, it is AAP's and BJP's government. But we will try to protect you, we will fight your battle."
Gandhi's comments drew a sharp reaction from Kejriwal. "Rahul Gandhi is still a child. His party probably did not tell him that railways comes under the central government, and not under the Government of Delhi," he said.
Earlier, Prabhu told Lok Sabha that encroachments were a "safety hazard" which have been impeding development. He also insisted that the death of the child had nothing to do with the razing of the slum units as it had occurred two hours before railways started clearing the encroachments.
After the meeting with Prabhu, Kejriwal said there will be no further slum demolition without rehabilitation of the affected persons.
"In principle, it was decided that there will be no demolition anywhere without rehabilitation in the coming days," he said, adding, "If any land is required for whichever railways projects they should give us a schedule and Delhi government will fist rehabiliate the slum dwellers before demolition."
Severely critical of Railways and the police, the AAP government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the demolition drive and death of the girl. The Chief Minister suspended two Sub-Divisional Magistrates and another senior official for "failing to arrange" food and shelter for those evicted.
In its reaction, Delhi BJP hit out at Kejriwal government accusing it of "indulging in politics" over death of the infant."Politics over death of an infant is not the culture of Delhi," Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay said.
The demolition was carried out on Saturday in which over 1,200 slum units were removed.
AAP and Trinammol Congress protested near the Mahatma Gandhi statue outside Parliament condemning the demolition.
AAP also protested in Parliament over the issue after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected an adjournment motion moved by it.
North Delhi Mayor Ravinder Gupta visited the site near railway line at Shakur Basti and directed civic health officials to immediately provide relief to affected people.
"The Mayor visited the site and met people there. As per his orders, a mobile dispensary was immediately stationed at the site along with doctors and para-medical staff. He (Gupta) also got blankets distributed to the needy," a senior NDMC official said.
Gupta was accompanied by Deputy Mayor Neelam Goyal, Deputy Commissioner of Rohini Zone Jagdeep Chillar, besides other senior officials of the North Corporation.