Death of child in jhuggi demolition drive sparks new Kejri-Centre row

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 14, 2015 09:34 IST
Safina Khatun, mother of the six-months-old girl, who died during a slum demolition drive at Shakur Basti. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

A fresh fracas raged on Sunday between the Delhi government and Centre over the death of an infant girl at a slum cluster which was torn down by the railways, with an AAP minister alleging the residents were “penalised” as they voted for his party.

While the department said the child had died hours before the demolition began, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal suspended three city officials for failing to provide relief to those evicted and hit out at the central ministry in a flurry of tweets.

“On such a cold winter night, railway officials demolished 500 slum dwellings. A child has died,” the CM tweeted in Hindi. “God will never forgive them.”

Senior politicians from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress who visited the Shakur Basti area in west Delhi, however, blamed him for not intervening when the drive was on.

The Kejriwal-led AAP, which romped to power by winning 67 of the 70 seats in this year’s assembly election, has been locked in a bitter turf war in the capital with the BJP-led Centre.

Read | Baby dies in Delhi slum, blame on Railways’ demolition drive

Delhi home minister Satyendra Jain went to the spot and announced a temporary relief of Rs 1 lakh for the infant’s family and also promised a probe to ascertain the reasons behind the death.

“If a child had died, the railways should have stopped the drive. What were the railways trying to prove? We will also launch an inquiry into the death of the child and the demolition drive,” he said.

“These people have been penalised for voting for AAP and this was a planned conspiracy.”

More than a thousand people were left homeless on Saturday night, Delhi’s coldest this winter, after the railways pulled down hundreds of dwellings and shops in an anti-encroachment drive to make room for fresh infrastructure.

According to the girl’s family, a pile of clothes fell on her while they were scurrying to leave their shanty after the demolition began and she was smothered.

The railways defended the action, saying they had issued three notices to the slum dwellers to vacate the grounds voluntarily.

“We have followed all procedures before removing those unauthorised constructions on railway land,” said Delhi divisional railway manager Arun Arora.

Kejriwal rushed to the site on Saturday night and questioned authorities for taking “selective” action. “There are court orders to raze properties of some rich n politicians in Delhi,” he tweeted. “Those orders r never implemented.”

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