No police help, demolition drive halted for second day
Declining to provide police personnel, the Delhi Police told the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) that most of the force was already engaged in law-and-order duty to ensure peaceful Friday prayers.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (SDMC) plan to carry out anti-encroachment drives in Okhla failed to take off on Friday after Delhi Police declined to provide police personnel for assistance and protection for the second consecutive day, saying that most of force was already engaged in law-and-order duty to ensure peaceful Friday prayers. Police also warned that any action in the “extremely sensitive” south-east district during the month of Ramzan may lead to a “major law-and-order problem”.
According to an action plan from the municipality, the civic body had scheduled anti-encroachment drives in Okhla Phase 2 and its surrounding areas, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area and Badarpur. On Thursday, too, SDMC received a similar communication from Delhi Police, expressing inability to provide sufficient staff to assist the drive in Sarita Vihar and Jasola areas.
A communication from the station house officer overseeing Mohan cooperative Industrial area, a copy of which has been seen by HT, said the SDMC has fixed an anti-encroachment drive on April 29, 2022. “Jamat-ul-vida (last Friday before Eid) will be celebrated on April 29, 2022 and a heavy law and order arrangement will be there at various mosques and Eidgahs. Most of the staff will be engaged in law and order duty. We are unable to provide the assistance/protection to the staff of SDMC,” the letter states.
Another communication on Thursday, from senior police officials in south-east district to SDMC, said that the proposed demolition and sealing programme in south-east district on Friday should be postponed.
A senior police official told HT that such requests for personnel should be done “at least a week prior to the planned drives”.
The drives were planned in the jurisdiction of police stations in Badarpur, Shaheen Bagh, Jaitpur and Okhla industrial area.
Earlier, SDMC mayor Mukesh Suryan claimed the “bulldozer campaign” will continue in the area of Okhla and Shaheen Bagh after inspecting the region on Wednesday. He did not comment on Friday’s development.
To be sure, the mayor does not have the authority to take such decisions which are implemented by the executive wing headed by SDMC commissioner. SDMC commissioner Gyanesh Bharti too did not respond to requests seeking comment..
A senior SDMC official said the anti-encroachment drive is not a reaction to the mayor’s statement. “We prepare fortnightly encroachment removal drives in various parts. It is routine exercise,” said the official.