Kathputli Colony evictees stay put under flyover, refuse to move to transit camp
Kathputli Colony was demolished to construct multi-storey buildings as part of DDA’s Master Plan 2021. During the last three years, 1,355 families have shifted to a transit accommodation at Anand Parbat.Updated: Nov 03, 2017 16:11 IST
Ever since their homes were razed to the ground in a demolition drive by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Monday, the residents of the Kathputli Colony are forced to live in the open — on the pavements or under the Shadipur flyover. Angry at being evicted from their homes, most of these residents have refused to shift to a nearby transit camp at Anand Parbat.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal interacted with the locals in Kathputli Colony on Thursday, but there was little comfort for the homeless. “No politician visited our colony when our houses were being demolished. Nobody came forward to help us then. So why now?” said Poonam Bhatt (20).
The homeless locals said that they are battling the cold weather and begging for food and water for the past four days. Many women said they found it humiliating to relieve themselves in the open.
They alleged that police tried to remove them from the roadside early this week, but stopped after the Delhi High Court order Tuesday. The colony was demolished to construct multi-storey buildings by a private builder, as part of Delhi Master Plan 2021 of DDA. During the last three years, 1,355 families have shifted to a transit accommodation at Anand Parbat. However, some families stayed put, refusing to move out.
Few residents told Hindustan Times that they have been promised alternative allotment in Narela by the DDA. However, they are hesitant to shift there.
“I have never heard of Narela before. It isn’t on the Delhi Metro route. How will we commute from there for our daily work? My four daughters study in a government school near the colony. How will they manage their studies from Narela?” asked Pinky Singh (30). Her house was demolished when she had stepped out to pick her daughters from school.
Mohammed Akbar (21), a tailor, hasn’t gone to work in the last four days. Earlier, he earned Rs 500 per day. But now he lives under Shadipur flyover with his parents, two sisters and a younger brother, and spends the entire day arranging food and water. At night, when it becomes cold and dark, the women of his house go to a nearby open space to relieve themselves. Akbar spends anxious moments until they return safely.
“What is the government doing for us? First our electricity supply was cut off, and then our houses were demolished. I am a tailor and earn on the basis of the number of hours I put into my work. How will I work and commute daily if I shift to Narela?” said Akbar, anxiously glancing at his ageing parents.
Bhatt, who is from a family of dhol players, said that Kathputli Colony had been home to three generations of her family. “On Monday afternoon, I was preparing lunch, when police arrived at our doorstep and dragged us out of our ancestral house. I saw bulldozers breaking down my home and I couldn’t do anything. My family managed to bring out three dhols. But many other musical instruments were destroyed,” she said.
Police and DDA officials have denied allegations of use of force.
DDA officials said that about half of the demolition work has been completed and about 2.50 hectares of the total encroached area of 5.2 hectares has been reclaimed for redevelopment.