Shakur Basti demolition: Fresh confrontation between Delhi, Centre; Arvind Kejriwal to raise issue with Railway Minister

Arvind Kejriwal will take up the demolition drive in Shakur basti and death of a baby at the site with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Shakur Basti demolition: Fresh confrontation between Delhi, Centre; Arvind Kejriwal to raise issue with Railway Minister
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New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will take up the demolition drive in Shakur basti and death of a baby at the site with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu as he was not satisfied with the ministry officials' response.

"In the meeting, Railway officials told the CM said that there is no rehabilitation scheme before demolition.

The Chief Minister completely rejected the claims of the Railways," said a Delhi Government official. After meeting the evicted dwellers, Kejriwal said that those people had been living there since 1992-94, but in one moment, Railway demolished the shanties. 

Also Read: Kejriwal urged Railways Minister to look into JJ issue in Dec 1 letter

"Those who have done this (demolition of shanties) are not humans, instead they are animals and bestial," Kejriwal said. 

Sources said that the Railway officials failed to give satisfactory response in the meeting with the Delhi CM.

"Railway officials failed to give satisfactory response as to why demolition drive was carried out when asked whether it was an emergency project," sources said.

They added when Kejriwal asked why proper rehabilitation measure was not taken before demolition, Railway officials said they will inform the their Board and Ministry about it.

"CM was not happy with the Railway officials' response and he would take up the matter with Railway Minister," sources also said.

Also Read: Shakur Basti demolition: Delhi government orders magisterial probe

The Delhi government ordered a magisterial probe into the demolition of 1200 slum units at Shakur Basti in West Delhi and planned to move court seeking FIR against those who ordered the action citing the Special Provision Act according to which no demolition can be carried out until government needs land urgently.

The railways, on its part, said the removal of "fresh encroachment" was necessary for expanding the infrastructure and that the action had been taken after three notices, the first one with the March 14, 2015 deadline.

A six-month-old baby died in one of the slum units, which the railways insisted had "nothing to do with removal of encroachments", claiming that it occurred two hours before the demolition started at 12 pm.

Police said prima facie the baby died due to suffocation after a heap of clothes fell on it when the parents were preparing to clear out of the jhuggi and hence no case was registered. 

The baby's grandmother, however, said it was wrong on the part of the railways to deny any connection of the demolition drive with the death of the child, saying "the officials never informed us in advance".

"They had made a plan to demolish the shanty and had surrounded the area. There was chaos and when police started chasing us, we started running and in that moment the luggage fell on the child and he died after that. Had they informed us in advance, we would have not come in their way," the victim's grandmother said, adding "As police started chasing us and throwing our items, we panicked. We want rehabilitation."

Kejriwal, who visited the site late last night, slammed the railways for undertaking the demolition drive at a time when the temperature saw a sharp drop. He ordered officials to immediately provide blankets and food to those who were rendered homeless following the drive.

Earlier in the day he told the reporters, "A child has died here. It is a very sad thing and I think that a murder case should be registered against the officers. Compensation will be taken from them. It should be deducted from the salaries of the officers who have conducted these raids."

Also Read: Infant's death in Shakur Basti: Opposition parties attack Delhi govt

In a series of tweets, Kejriwal had said, "Railways have demolished 500 shanties in this extreme cold. One child has died. God will never forgive them. Had instructed the local SDM to arrange for food and shelter. They did not arrange the same, so have suspended them." 

The Chief Minister said that he had spoken to Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who was "not aware of this operation. He was also shocked."

In a statement released later in the evening, the Delhi government blamed the railways for demolishing the shanties in Shakur Basti "without any survey/rehabilitation plan for the slum dwellers leaving them without shelter in cold weather."

"This is against the provisions of extant Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy of GNCTD. This policy has been framed as per the provisions of DUSIB Act, 2010; Special Provisions Act, 2011, Master Plan of Delhi 2021 and various landmark judgements of Supreme Court of India and High Court of Delhi," it said.

The AAP government also said this demolition is against the decisions taken in the meetings held between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior railway officers on May 8 and September 22 this year.

"The Delhi Slum and J J Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy envisages that shanties in Delhi will not be demolished without rehabilitation of eligible dwellers as per provisions of the said policy.

"Whether the dwellers are eligible for rehabilitation or not can be ascertained only after the joint survey and eligibility determination by Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and Land Owing Agency, which in this case is Railways. But unfortunately no such survey was conducted by Railways before carrying out this demolition," it said.

Also Read: Demolition drive in Delhi's Shakurbasti allegedly leaves a child dead, thousands homeless in chilling cold​

It also alleged that railways did not even inform DUSIB about the demolition "thereby causing a great hardship to the dwellers as even the relief arrangement such as food and water etc. could not made for the victims of this demolition."