9th October, 2020
PUCL,DELHI CONDEMNS INHUMAN AND BRUTAL DEMOLITION OF JHUGGIES AT DHOBI GHAT, BATLA HOUSE, AND THE CONTINUOUS HARASSMENTS OF ITS RESIDENTS BY THE OFFICIALS OF DDA AND DELHI POLICE.
Yesterday, on 8th October, 2020, the officials of DDA and Delhi Police again descended on the families of the jhuggie dwellers of Dhobi Ghat, Batla House, Jamia Nagar, Okhla, New Delhi whose jhuggies had already been demolished on 24th September 2020 without serving the required notice. On 24th September, 2020 the said officials alongwith the police had raided the jhuggies of about 70 families situated at the said Dhobi Ghat, and had brutally demolished them.These families have been residing there for about 20 to 30 years, have ration and voter cards, electricity bills, aadhar cards etc. As per settled policy, as enunciated in various cases of Supreme courts and high courts, especially in the cases of ‘Chameli Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1996) 2 SCC 549 (Supreme Court),Sudama Singh v. Government of Delhi (2010) 168 DLT 218 and ‘Ajay Maken & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors., (2019) 260 DLT 581 DB.’ (Delhi High court), that right to shelter is a fundamental right and no slum-dweller would be removed without providing them alternate accommodation. The DDA itself has framed its policy with this objective. But nevertheless the DDA and police went on demolishing the jhuggies on 24th September flouting such mandates. In the process the bulldozers were let loose destroying whatever was inside the jhuggies without allowing the families to retrieve their scanty belongings ; and whatever remains were there of the utensils, cots, stools, jewellery, money, documents were put inside the trucks and taken away. Since then about 400 families with their children, old and young, had been staying in the open , almost under starvation conditions without water while bracing oppressive heat. The DDA officials had inundated the razed ground with water in order to make the stayof the families there impossible. The families had no alternative but to shift to an adjacent small plot with a view to exist. However yesterday the DDA-police officials attacked the families again. The water was let loose on the ground on which the families were trying to stay and their temporary shanties made of clothes etc. were destroyed. The heart rending cries of weeping children, women and old did not trouble the raiding team as they went on their destructive spree triumphantly and gleefully. A team of PUCL, Delhi consisting of N.D.Pancholi, Sheoraj Singh, Arun Maji, Surya Prakash, Vertika Mani and Brajesh had visited the site on 2nd October 2020 and witnessed the miserable plight of the suffering families. The team was also told about the nexus among the builder-mafia and some officials of DDA and local police as the demolition attack was confined only to jhuggies of poor dwellers while large part of surrounding area similarly occupied by some local power-brokers was not touched. The families approached the Delhi High court which has asked them to approach National Green Tribunal as the order of demolition was ordered by the latter. Legal proceedings are along drawn struggle while the families are in need of immediate relief.
It is ironical that authorities are taking these harsh measures during pandemic of coronavirus which is threatening the lives of lakhs of people world over. The governments after governments, including our own ones, have been advising the people to ‘stay home’ so that spread of the deadly disease could be curtailed. Hundreds of homeless people -children and women, old and young, wandering on the streets under starving conditions are not of any help to the campaign against pandemic. But unmindful of the dangerous consequences which forced eviction of hundreds of slumdwellers may entail, the authorities seem to be more interested in the measures which would augment the disease rather controlling it. The impression emerges that the campaign against corona as proclaimed loudly by the governments is a sham one as the authorities feel no compunction in resorting to the inhuman and anti-people measures even if the such measures help in spreading the disease.
PUCL, Delhi, therefore call upon the DDA, Delhi Police and the Delhi Government to abide by the mandates of the Constitution of India whereby it is enjoined upon them to give protection to the poor and vulnerable sections of society. While interpreting our constitutional obligations and holding that right to shelter is a fundamental right available to every citizen, the Supreme Court in the matter of ‘Chameli Singh Vs. State of UP: (1996)2 S CC 549 ‘ stated as under :
“….In a democratic society as a member of the organized civic community one should have permanent shelter so as to physically, mentally and intellectually equip oneself to improve his excellence as a useful citizen as enjoined in the Fundamental Duties and to be a useful citizen and equal participant in democracy. The ultimate object of making a man equipped with a right to dignity of person and equality of status is to enable him to develop himself into a cultural being. Want of decent residence, therefore frustrate the very object of the constitutional animation of right to equity, economic justice, fundamental right to residence, dignity of person and right to live itself.”
PUCL, Delhi, draw attention of the respective authorities to ponder over the above salient interpretation of the top court which is the true import of our constitutional objectives and call upon them to immediately stop such inhuman and undemocratic adventures in which they are indulging in the name of clearing slums.
We urge upon the respective authorities of DDA, Police and Delhi Govt.
- not to resort to any measure for displacing the jhuggie dwellers from the spot where they had been residing for the last about 20 to 30 years;
- rather to help them in rebuilding their hutments so that they enjoy their fundamental right to shelter;
- and we further appeal to the authorities to pay suitable compensation to the affected jhuggie dwellers for the damages done to their jhuggies and their belongings as well as for mental tension caused to them.
N.D.Pancholi, Sheoraj Singh, Arun Maji, Surya Prakash,Vertika Mani and Brajesh
For and on behalf of People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) Delhi
(M) 9811099532, 9871787075