Delhi civic body seeks police backup to remove encroachments from ITO graveyard
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has sought police backup to carry out a two-day anti-encroachment drive to remove alleged illegal structures on the periphery of the Jadid Qabristan Ahle Islam at ITO, Delhi’s biggest graveyard for Muslims, a spokesperson for the civic body said on Tuesday.
In a communication sent to the Delhi Police by the executive engineer of the MCD central zone, the civic body said that necessary opportunity has been provided to the encroachers to show their documents to prove their ownership but none of them could submit ownership proofs. “Accordingly, an encroachment removal programme has been fixed for June 22 and 23, 2022. It is requested to provide adequate police force along with lady police for maintaining law and order,” the communication said.
A senior police officer, who asked not to be named, said, “The police are duty bound to provide security and assistance whenever any demolition action is carried out. If the MCD carries out the demolition drive tomorrow and day after, police support will be provided to them.”
An MCD spokesperson on Tuesday said that the civic body has earmarked more than 50 structures on public land behind the ITO office area.
“Nearly 50% of the squatters have already vacated the place. The encroachment removal action is in pursuance of directions of the Delhi high court and the MCD has ensured all legal measures. The opposite party [squatters] has lost cases in all forums and a detailed hearing has been given some months back to each party. Encroachment removal drive has been planned after hearing those parties as no proof of ownership was provided by them. It is a public road,” the spokesperson added.
Jadid Qabristan Ahle Islam is spread over an area of 45 acres also served as one of the designated burial ground for Covid patients in the city.
Haji Qayumuddin, who heads the managing committee of the graveyard, said that the burial ground management has nothing to do with these structures and they are located on the boundary of the burial ground. “This land [encroached area] does not belong to the burial ground. This used to be footpath several decades back and apparently the structures have come up on vending Tehbazari space. We have nothing to do with these structures and we have no objection if the MCD plans to take action against them,” he added.
The municipal corporation said on Tuesday that it is a “routine encroachment removal drive”.
The encroachment removal drives, an otherwise a routine function of the civic body, had come under the scanner after a controversial demolition drive by the erstwhile North MCD on April 20 in north-west Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area, four days after communal violence broke out there during a religious procession
The MCD had also carried out an anti-encroachment drive at a park near gate number 1 of Jama Masjid on June 16. According to MCD officials, the drive was carried out on the orders of the Delhi high court. In a statement issued later, the MCD said that a wall of the park was also partly damaged during the action. “During the encroachment removal, the wall of the park got partly damaged, which is being repaired by the maintenance department,” the statement said.
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