The sealing drive against unauthorised shops in residential areas of Delhi has been put on hold till Monday when the Supreme Court will hear the central government "forcefully" emphasise on the humanitarian aspects of the complex problem.
The sealing drive, ordered by the court, had led to clashes between police and protesters in several areas on Wednesday, during a strike called by the traders. Police firing in Seelampur in northeast Delhi resulted in the death of three persons -- two of them teenagers. A fourth person died in a hospital late at night.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, to find an amicable solution to the problem - without a confrontation with the court.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters that the sealing drive had been put on hold in view of the problems it caused. "Our aim is to maintain peace and calm in Delhi," she said after a GoM meeting, also attended by Delhi Police Commissioner KK Paul.
Patil said he had full faith in the Supreme Court; that the court would "understand" the complexities involved and give "relief" to people. "If there is peace, there is no problem that cannot be resolved," he said, asserting that the government, court and the people would work towards a solution.
Patil's expression of faith in the court was in contrast to the remarks made by Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy on Wednesday. Reddy had said, "Making laws is the prerogative of the government, not courts." Patil's views indicate that the government will try to convince rather than confront the court on Monday.
Patil suggested the next meeting of the GoM would depend on the outcome of Monday's hearing.
Seelampur and adjoining areas, meanwhile, remained calm barring a "minor skirmish" in the afternoon, police said. DCP (northeast) Devesh Srivastava said: "Twelve companies, including those of the RAF and the BSF, have been deployed in the area."
Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, where most of those injured in the Seelampur clashes were taken to, has reported to the Delhi government that 14 people were admitted with gunshot injuries, "three were brought dead and one died in the neuro-trauma ward".