Baby dies in Delhi slum, blame on Railways’ demolition drive

More than 500 shanties have been demolished in an overnight anti-encroachment drive by the Railway police in a slum area of west Delhi, reports said on Sunday.
Over 500 shanties were demolished by the Railway police in a slum area of west Delhi.(Picture courtesy: ANI)
Over 500 shanties were demolished by the Railway police in a slum area of west Delhi.(Picture courtesy: ANI)
Updated on Dec 14, 2015 02:21 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByHT Correspondent, New Delhi

A baby died in Shakur Basti area in west Delhi where railway authorities razed more than 500 shanties in a demolition drive, police said on Sunday.

Police said prima facie the six-month-old died after a heap of clothes fell on her, while railway authorities said the child died at around 10am on Saturday, two hours before the demolition drive began.

“When family members were arranging clothes, a heap of garments fell over the child which they did not notice. The child got smothered under it. No case has been registered as of now,” said Jt CP (south west) Dependra Pathak.

A railway statement, on the other hand, said, “The encroachment removal was started at 11.50 hrs under police protection and completed by evening. It had nothing to do with removal of encroachments which started at around 1200 hours.”

The incident triggered an angry reaction from Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who slammed the railways and suspended three officials for not providing relief for those evicted.

Kejriwal visited the site late in the night and ordered the suspension of two sub divisional magistrates and one senior official for “failing to arrange” food and shelter for those who were evicted.

“Railways have demolished 500 shanties in this extreme cold. One child has died. God will never forgive them. Had instructed the local SDM to arrange for food and shelter. They did not arrange the same, so have suspended them,” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.

Residents of the slum in Shakur Basti alleged their homes were demolished on a cold winter day without any warning or notice. But northern railway officials said notices were issued to them to vacate the land where a new passenger terminal was proposed.

“There is a need for constructing additional platforms, repairing yard, washing line, maintenance facility and office space for store and engineering division. So that, more long distance and local trains can be handled at the Shakur Basti station,” said a statement.

CM Kejriwal said he spoke to railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who was not not aware of the operation and “was shocked.”

“Heart rending scenes. How cud our own countrymen do this to our poorest fellow countrymen,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Arun Arora, an official of the Indian Railways, said that the National Green Tribunal had directed them to clean the tracks and that the death of the child and the encroachment drive were not related.

(With inputs from agencies)

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