18 hurt in slum riot over demolition drive

NEW DELHI: An anti-encroachment drive in west Delhi turned violent on Saturday morning, leaving at least 18 people injured, five of them seriously. When police and North Corporation officials arrived to clear a slum in Jwalapuri, around 1,000 men and women clashed with them repeatedly over a couple of hours. Police had to lathi-charge and teargas the mob to restore order.

Police said 11 people were injured in stone pelting by the crowd. Four government vehicles, including two cars each of the corporation and the police, were damaged. A case of rioting was registered and around 25 people were detained.

The drive was ordered by a city court after residents of the nearby Viraat Apartments complained their passage had been encroached upon. The court had set Saturday as the deadline to act.

Tension was palpable in the slum since Friday when BSES disconnected the power supply. But it took the shape of a riot when civic officials arrived to raze the 580 shanties at the site.

When TOI visited the scene after the riot, fear and anxiety were writ large on the faces of the slum inhabitants. Roshni, 22, was standing beside the remains of her shanty nursing welts on her forehead and hands. Some of her neighbours had loaded their belongings on autos and were moving out to stay with relatives. Some others had decided to stay on without a roof. “Rents of the nearby shanties have shot up to Rs 5,000 today. The children and women will have to sleep in the open until I make some arrangement,” said Hukum Chand, who needed seven stitches on his right leg after the lathi-charge.

The slum residents complained the drive was carried out without intimation, and they were not given time to collect the belongings. They also alleged police roughed up and abused women who tried to resist the drive. “Women of all ages were beaten up with lathis,” said Roshni’s mother Sarita Devi.

“We have ration cards and have lived here for more than three decades. We were shifted here from RK Puram and were awaiting relocation. There have been surveys but the government has not allotted us alternative sites,” said Kishan Lal.

The corporation had to demolish all 580 shanties but due to the violence it managed to raze only 30-35. A building department official claimed the residents had disregarded the eviction order they got on Friday. The drive will resume on Monday.


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