Tin sheets, tarpaulin or plastic sheets lying above dilapidated mud walls, corners of clothes peeping out from below the heaps of rubble, blackened utensils lying upturned with stale dirty water, broken door or window frames and countless flies muzzling everywhere.
It is more than three weeks that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) tore apart two slum colonies in Baljeet Nagar in west Delhi but the Gayatri Colony and Punjabi Basti clusters look as if they were ravaged just yesterday.
On Monday, more than 1,000 persons had gathered at a pit-like opening in the middle of razed down jhuggis lining the broken ridgeline. Former chief justice of Delhi high court justice AP Shah, Miloon Kothari, working for the rights of the homeless and the displaced, and two other activists Jaya Shrivastava and Amita Joseph conducted a public hearing for what is being termed as an entirely illegal demolition by the DDA.
Almost full-term pregnant Pushpa Devi (32) recalled the horror when DDA and police officials carried out the demolition. “I have been staying here for last 7-8 years. My husband has been staying here for last 15 years. How can they come and throw us out like this?”
One after another, young and old, men and women came on stage and narrated how even when most of the residents of these slums have voter I-cards, ration cards and electric bills to prove that they have been staying legally, the slums were demolished. The authorities have not yet restored electricity supply and even the water supply by tankers is stopped.
“They (DDA) are bound to give us minimum a day’s notice and also offer compensatory rehabilitation. Nothing has been done,” said Hira Lal, a resident and a slum rights activist.
The hearing was organised by the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) in association with a number of organisations and local activists. Advocate Jayshree Satpute from the HRLN, the NGO providing legal help to these displaced and homeless persons, said, “We are going to compile a detailed report — both documentary and video recording — of this public hearing.”
The hearing, between 3pm and 5pm, continued through the hot sunny afternoon.