As 50 children got ready for school on Tuesday morning, they were startled to see railway and police officials outside their houses, accompanied by a demolition team, ready to tear apart their home.
The railway authorities had on Saturday put up a notice saying that the shelter for homeless under the Safdarjung flyover and the small dwellings next to it would be demolished by Tuesday.
While the children live in the shelter, their parents live in the open due to lack of space.
The railway authorities' notice came despite the high court order that clearly states that no shelter can be demolished under any condition.
Hindustan Times had reported on Tuesday the dilemma of these children and their parents. On Tuesday morning, the railway authorities demolished the small dwellings next to the shelter. Only after their attention was drawn towards the court order repeatedly that they decide to leave the shelter.
The parents were forced to spend the night under the open sky. And while what the authorities did was within the law, their action created a hostile situation for the children.
The children go to a nearby NDMC school. NGO Prerna, that runs the homeless shelter, helped the children get admission. “If their parents are driven out, why will the children stay here? It is with a lot of difficulty that they were admitted to school and if they move away from this spot, they are going to drop out,” said Palvinder Singh, an NGO member.
Even teachers at the NDMC School were surprised as none of the children reported to school on Tuesday.
According to the teachers and principal of the school, most students are very regular and dedicated. The education department has made a provision for a teacher to conduct extra classes and ensure that students of all ages can cope up with the curriculum.
“The first step was to convince their parents. It was very tough and if these children drop out now, most won't go back,” said Singh.