Slum demolition in Delhi echoes inside Parliament

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during a visit to Shakur Basti where a demolition drive was carried out in a slum, in New Delhi, December 14, 2015. Photo - PTI

New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during a visit to Shakur Basti where a demolition drive was carried out in a slum, in New Delhi, December 14, 2015.
Photo – PTI

The incident of demolition of a slum in the capital, where a 6-month-old infant lost her life, echoed inside the Parliament House on Monday even leading to adjournment of Lok Sabha for a brief while. The matter that has been shaping up as another confrontation between AAP government in Delhi and the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, has now snowballed into a triangular political strife after Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the demolition site at West Delhi’s Shakur Basti in the morning.

“Whenever a slum is about to be demolished, call Rahul Gandhi. I will not let this happen,” the Congress party vice president said.

“We will try to help you. As you know we are not in the government, it is Kejriwalji’s and Modiji’s government…. But we will try to protect you, we will fight your battle,” Rahul Gandhi told the slum dwellers adding that his party will raise the issue in Parliament.

Pointing fingers at both Delhi government and the Centre, Rahul Gandhi further added, “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 and rehabilitate them”.

Ever since the demolition of slum cluster at Shakurbasti’s Railway Colony on Saturday afternoon by the Railways authority, another round of confrontation is brimming between the AAP and BJP.

New Delhi: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu speaking in Lok Sabha.  Photo - PTI

New Delhi: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu speaking in Lok Sabha.
Photo – PTI

Moving adjournment notice in Lok Sabha this morning, AAP raised protest after their notice was rejected by the Lok Sabha Speaker. The party MP Bhagwant Mann along with MPs from TMC also sat on protest at the Gandhi statue in the Parliament House complex.

Later, speaking on the issue, Union Railways minister Suresh Prabhu said the encroachments were a “safety hazard” and that he will discuss with Delhi CM Minister Arvind Kejriwal ways to clear such public land. He also insisted that the death of a child at the demolition site had nothing to do with the razing of the slum units.

“As per report from Northern Railway, the child alleged to have died during the encroachment removal drive, had expired much before the encroachment removal had commenced, as confirmed from Delhi Police records,” Suresh Prabhu said on the floor of Lok Sabha.

“I will invite the Chief Minister of Delhi for discussion on how public land could be cleared for utilization for important public purposes,” he added.

The Union railways minister even said that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had recently “fined Northern Railway for not maintaining cleanliness on and around the track. Such encroachments are main source of garbage and open defecation etc. Encroachments are the safety hazards for train operation as well as for encroachers.”

New Delhi: The affected families at Shakur Basti, New Delhi where a demolition drive was carried out in a slum on December 12, 2015. Photo - PTI

New Delhi: The affected families at Shakur Basti, New Delhi where a demolition drive was carried out in a slum on December 12, 2015.
Photo – PTI

Meanwhile, AAP took exception to Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of their party chief Arvind Kejriwal. The former had questioned the rationale behind AAP protest over the issue.

“Rahul Gandhi is still a child. His party probably did not tell him that Railway comes under the central government, and not under the Government of Delhi,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote in a micro-blogging site Twitter soon after Rahul’s criticism.

The Delhi government have already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the demolition drive, besides suspending two Sub-Divisional Magistrates and another senior official. According to the police, prima facie the baby died due to suffocation after a heap of clothes fell on it when the parents were preparing to move out of the jhuggi. Delhi Police has now registered a case of death due to negligence in the matter.

(With inputs from the PTI)