The locals in Shaheen Bagh area protested today as bulldozers rolled into the area for an anti-encroachment drive conducted by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to remove illegal encroachment.
However, local residents of the area protested and were seen sitting on the roads and stopping the bulldozers as the demolition drive began with assistance provided by Delhi Police. The situation later turned tense.
Today’s Shaheen bagh demolition drive comes 19 days after a similar drive was conducted in the communal violence-hit Jahangirpuri area.
In that drive, several illegal structures, including cold drink booths and shops, were demolished.
According to a social worker, “We have gathered here to stop the bulldozers. If the government is talking about encroachment, were they not able to see the encroachment for 15 years? Why was the MCD and government sleeping for so long? Now when the MCD tenure is ending on May 18, they recall that there is encroachment.”
Dismissing about the encroachment, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Amanatullah Khan, said, “Where is encroachment? I have myself removed all the encroachments 2-3 days back.”
The MLA said that he had himself inspected the whole area and spoken to every official, including the traffic police.
While this is not the first time that Shaheen Bagh area of Delhi has become the epicentre, in November 2019 to March 2020 also it became the same during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.
The Chairman of the SDMC’s standing committee (central zone) said that the municipality will do its work and the bulldozers have been organised for the purpose.
“Our workers and officials are ready. Teams and bulldozers have been organised. Encroachments will be removed wherever they are be it in Tughlakabad, Sangam Vihar, New Friends Colony or Shaheen Bagh,” the chairman said.
Meanwhile, Khan said that the people of the area had already removed the encroachments at his request.
“Wazu Khana’ and toilets outside a mosque here were removed in presence of police, earlier. When there are no encroachments, why have they come here? Just to do politics?” the AAP MLA said.
Khan further alleged that the MCD is carrying out the drive to “disturb the atmosphere”.
“When I removed all the encroachments, then the MCD has come to disturb the atmosphere. Why else have they come? If there is any encroachment in my constituency, tell me, I will remove it,” he said.
Reacting over the allegations, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, while addressing a press conference said that Congress and AAP’s opposition to anti-encroachment drive in Shaheen Bagh proves that they are “supporters” of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis.
He further said, “Those who were lying in front of bulldozers will be given a befitting reply by the people. It’s unfortunate that AAP and Congress are opposing removal of encroachment in Shaheen Bagh. I urge them not to link encroachment with religion.”