No roof above head, how Delhi’s Kathputli Colony residents are spending sleepless nights
The colony was demolished to construct multi-storey buildings by a private builder, as part of Delhi Master Plan 2021 of DDA. However, some families stayed put, refusing to move out.delhi Updated: Nov 05, 2017 20:44 IST
Every day, a man in his early 50s visits Kathputli Colony to distribute rice and dal among its residents, who are living on pavements and under the Shadipur flyover ever since their houses were razed to the ground in a demolition drive by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on October 30.
Similarly, every morning, a group of women from another locality arrive with tea and toast for the homeless families, who have refused to shift to a nearby transit camp and are staying put at the location.
Those who have offered help are people from the neighbourhood as well as authorities of Prayer Foundation Church (New Patel Nagar) and Bangla Sahib Gurdwara near Connaught Place.
Sukhvinder Singh (52), popular among the residents as “Sardarji”, hires a cycle rickshaw and goes among the homeless with two containers filled with rice and dal. He is also the president of the New Patel Nagar resident welfare association.
Singh was appalled at the dismal conditions of hundreds of residents of the colony living on roadsides. He decided to feed them after noticing the residents, especially children begging for food.
“Since the demolition drive, the street in front of my house has been filled with several homeless families. I have been living in this area for last 40 years, but never saw so much chaos. It is a pitiable condition,” said Singh.
So, last week, he hired a cook and bought 100 kilos of rice and 30 kilos of dal. In a few hours, lunch was prepared to feed over a hundred people. Then he went about distributing it.
Encouraged by his efforts, Singh’s friends also joined him. The gurdwara authority approached him and began distributing food during dinner time among the homeless persons, Singh said.
Similarly, the church in New Patel Nagar has turned into a temporary shelter for few residents, where they are provided food and water.
From 8 am onwards, Rupa Massey (20), one of the church members, begins making tea in the kitchen of the church. She lives in Najafgarh but comes to the church everyday to prepare morning tea and lunch for the residents of Kathputli Colony. By 10 am, she finishes making several rounds of tea.
The ground floor of the church has become a temporary shelter for the homeless. Massey and several others like her work in the church kitchen from morning till evening to feed these residents.
“Morning tea is served in disposable glasses along with a toast. We give it to every resident of Kathputli Colony, who has been coming to the church ever since their houses were demolished. They have no means to feed themselves, so we have been preparing food for them daily. Those who come to the church never go back hungry,” said Massey.
For lunch, the church members prepare several kilos of steamed rice, dal and hundreds of rotis. They also make huge quantities of potatoes and cauliflower vegetable curry.
“The people of Kathputli Colony, whose homes were destroyed last week, have been spending most of their time in this church. We prepare food and provide them shelter at night. It’s an open floor for them. We help them in whatever way we can,” said Mark, the church’s pastor.