Mayors of municipal corporations ending a hunger strike by taking juice offered by cabinet minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, outside the residence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
Mayors of municipal corporations ending a hunger strike by taking juice offered by cabinet minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, outside the residence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

After 13 days, mayors call off protest outside CM residence

The Delhi Police had served the protesting mayors a notice to vacate the venue citing the court order. Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, along with Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta, and other senior leaders visited the mayors and councillors at the protest site on Saturday.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 20, 2020 02:29 AM IST

Thirteen days after they started camping in front of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Flagstaff Road residence, the mayors and councillors of all three BJP-led municipal corporations called off their sit-in protest on Saturday, following a Delhi high court order.

The Delhi Police had served the protesting mayors a notice to vacate the venue citing the court order. Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, along with Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta, and other senior leaders visited the mayors and councillors at the protest site on Saturday.

The Delhi high court on Friday asked the Delhi police to shift protesters outside Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s house stating that the protest gives an incorrect signal that the prohibitory orders of the Delhi District Management Authority (DDMA), in view of Covid-19 spread, are not being followed.

“You have to shift them (protesters). The district magistrate has to pass an order. Otherwise, an incorrect signal will go,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva had told the police on Friday after a plea by the Civil Lines Residents Association contended that the protest was causing an inconvenience as agitators were blocking the road.

North corporation mayor Jai Prakash, who was undergoing treatment at the protest site, said that they have been served notice by the Delhi police to vacate the protest venue. “We are law abiding citizens. We will follow the court’s order and leave the venue. But our protest will continue in a different form. We will now take this battle to each ward,” said Jai Prakash.

On Saturday, the health of several councillors deteriorated during the third day of their indefinite hunger strike. South corporation mayor Anamika Singh was admitted to Hindu Rao hospital after her condition deteriorated. Her condition is said to be stable right now.

Earlier in the day, speaking to the media after meeting those sitting on protest, Puri said, “These people have been sitting on protest for the past 13 days not for themselves, but for the employees of municipal corporations. They have raised the issue about problems faced by employees, especially during the pandemic, as the corporations are unable to pay salaries. Instead of helping them, the government is not releasing Rs 13,000 crore. The CM didn’t even come and speak to them. There can be change of heart and I hope he (Kejriwal) understands the gravity of the situation and finds a solution to the problem.”

Even though the sit-in outside the CM’s residence was called off, the BJP said that the protest for funds will continue. From December 25, birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP is planning a door-to-door campaign to tell people about how the government was not paying Rs 13,000 crore.

“It is unfortunate that he couldn’t take out time to even meet the mayors to find a solution to the problem. Today, Delhi has seen the real face of the CM, who is insensitive to the problems of the people. The CM is not letting the municipal corporations work,” said Gupta.

The mayors have been protesting outside the CM’s residence to press for the immediate release of Rs 13,000 crore which they claim the Delhi government owes the municipal corporations. They say that the corporations have not been able to pay salaries to its employees for the past two-three months due to the financial crunch.

Nirmal Jain, mayor of East corporation, said, “We might not sit outside the CM’s house, but our protest will continue. We will now take it to the people and tell them about how the Delhi government is not letting us work. We will tell them about the plight of our employees, whom we are not able to pay for the past two-three months.”

Reacting to the allegations, senior AAP leader Durgesh Pathak said, “BJP leaders who are sitting outside the residence of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal are doing drama. For the last 13 days, the BJP-ruled MCD is not working because these leaders are sitting outside the residence of chief minister. In the last 15 years, the BJP has completely ruined the MCD. Garbage is piled up everywhere because the MCDs do not perform their duty....To distract the attention of the citizens of Delhi from the Rs 2,400 crore scam done by the BJP, they are doing this drama.”

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