For those living in homeless shelters near Ramlila Ground in Old Delhi, Friday and Saturday turned out to be two harrowing days.
Delhi police forcefully evicted more than 60 homeless people from the shelter due to a special prayer meeting held at the Ramlila Ground. A lot of VIPs also visited the place. “Security reasons” was the police’s explanation for this.
Indo Global Social Service Society (IGSS), which runs the shelter on behalf of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), lodged a complaint at Kamla Market police station.
Indu Prakash Singh, technical advisor of IGSS, said, “The police threatened my colleagues and the homeless people living there and abused them. The police also threatened to beat them up if they refused to move.”
Singh said even on Saturday morning, no homeless person was allowed to enter the shelter. “This is contempt of High Court order. These shelters are supposed to remain open throughout the day,” Singh added.
A heavy police presence was seen near the entry/exit point of the venue when HT visited the spot on Saturday night. The road from the Civic Centre roundabout to the one joining Asaf Ali Marg was closed for traffic.
Police said the programme would continue till about 9pm and the homeless would be let in once the devotees disperse. But it seemed unlikely that the homeless would get to sleep in the shelter on Saturday night.
“The police said due to VIP movement the homeless had to be evicted. To treat them like criminals and as a security threat is absurd,” Singh said.
A complaint was also filed with the DUSIB. HT has the copies of both the police complaint and the complaint to the DUSIB.
But the police denied having taken any action. “There was no action taken to evict people living in the night shelter. Also, no complaint has been lodged with us,” said a senior police officer.
DUSIB, too, denied receiving a complaint. “We have not received any complaint. We will respond to it once we do,” said a senior DUSIB official.