Union parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said the Railways should not have conducted the demolition drive in Shakur Basti area at the height of winter.
“The Congress regime under chief minister Sheila Dikshit, in 2007 had proposed to build a railway terminal in Shakur Basti, and since then, efforts were on to do so,” Naidu told reporters.
“There should be no politics in this case. It should be seen from a humanitarian angle and this demolition drive should not have been conducted in winter,” he added.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday reiterated his stand that the six-month-old child had died before the demolition drive had begun in Shakur Basti and not during the drive.
Prabhu made his statement in the Lok Sabha on the encroachment drives, where around 500 jhuggis were razed to the ground.
“The child died much before the demolition drive began and the encroachers did not vacate the place despite repeated notices. Such encroachments are the main source of garbage and safety hazard. Will meet Delhi chief minister today to discuss tackling encroachment in other areas too,” Prabhu said.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier demanded that a murder case be registered against the officers who were responsible for the demolition that allegedly led to the child’s death.
“Railways have demolished 500 shanties in this extreme cold. One child has died. God will never forgive them. Had instructed the local SDM to arrange for food and shelter. They did not arrange the same, so have suspended them,” enraged Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.
Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited the demolition site on Monday and held the Delhi government and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre responsible for the demolition, while assuring the homeless slum dwellers that they would be provided aid at the earliest.
“Call me if they try to break your homes again and I promise I won’t let it happen. I will help you in every way possible. You know we are not in power, it is Modi ji and Kejriwal ji who are at power. Your fight is our fight,” Rahul told the slum dwellers.
“There is a way of doing these things and the law has clearly been broken here. The Modi government and the Delhi government are involved here and now they are engaged in a blame game. What they should be doing is help the hungry and the people in pain. They need to ensure rehabilitation and provide them shelter,” he added.
Kejriwal had earlier hit out at Gandhi for accusing the Delhi government and called him a “child”.
“Rahul Gandhi is still a child. I don’t think his party has told him that that Indian Railways reports to the Centre and not to the Delhi government,” Kejriwal tweeted.