What good will this demolition do for us?: Batla House dhobi ghat resident Amna who lost shelter asks Delhi govt

Nearly a thousand living at a slum at the Batla House dhobi ghat in Delhi have been rendered homeless as Delhi Development Authority (DDA) launched a demolition drive on Thursday.

More than 200 jhuggis (huts) were demolished, residents of the slum area with a majority of Muslim population told media.

“We were not given any prior notice to shift from the area,” they said.

DDA officials said that this land pertains to the Yamuna floodplain and is owned by DDA. This is pursuant to guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and DDA’s commitment that Yamuna floodplain should be removed from encroachments, officials added.

Razina, a widow, and mother of four children told Maktoob that the government action was carried out without giving them time to even take their food and money from the tenements.

Razina has been living in the area for over 15 years.

“but our lives were demolished within hours,” she said.

“Our men were injured in the process by policemen,” Razina added.

Ameen Ansari, 32, a vegetable seller said to Maktoob that finding a new place for his family is impossible.

“Many of us cannot afford to rent a place,” Ansari said.

“We cannot understand the reason behind this emergency. This is the time of COVID-19 and we strongly feel they (government) don’t care us.”Ansari added.

“The authorities need to rehabilitate us properly or else allow us to keep living here,” Amna Khatun, 19 who lost her shelter said.

“What good will this demolition do for us?” she asks.

Amna said her mother lost her means of livelihood because of the pandemic.

The members of All India Students Association (AISA) Jamia Millia Islamia unit who visited the site soon after the demolition informed media that eight residents of the slums were detained on Thursday when they objected to the demolition and many more were lathi-charged including women and children.

“Till today, no representative of the Delhi Government has come to address the issue. There is a sense of saddening and residents of the Balta House jhuggis feel betrayed by the Delhi government who during their election campaign promised “pakka houses in place of jhuggis”,” AISA wrote on its official Facebook page.