Monday, November 2, 2015

Living in National Capital: Another Delhi Slum to Face Eviction, This Time Due to Security Threat to the VIPs

In a recent development in Delhi, 600 families face threat of eviction central Delhi’s Hafiz Nagar and Janta Camp due to security threats to VIPs. The 600 families have been living in slums near Bhairon Marg for decades, and now the authorities feel their presence pose threat to the VIPs of the area. The slums lie in the route of the VIPs to reach Rajghat. The threat has been anticipated by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in a letter written to the Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

The IB feels anybody standing on the terrace of these slum could have a close view of the VIP motorcade. The slum land belongs to the Northern Railway of India, and it has also been informed about such threat. As the slums are unauthorised settlements, there is no clarity about the future of the families living in such slums.

Last week the people in the slum were surprised after receiving a notice from Northern Railway to vacate their houses in 10 days. People have been living in the area for past 50 years, and a sudden notice to vacate the land comes not only as a surprise but also as a question to the dignity of life of people living in India.

“We have been living here for decades. When the new government came into power it said that it will be making new houses for us. But it seems it was only to get our votes and nothing else.” a local resident lamented after receiving the notice. The resident also shared that whenever there was any VIP movement through their area, the police came and locked their houses, and nobody was allowed to come out or stand on the terrace.

Most of the people in the slums are labourers working in the nearby railway yard. The people belong to the economically backward class, and relocating to a new place means loss of work as well as additional costs, which people are not in a condition to bear. Apart from this, the approach of the government authorities has been vary one sided, without taking into consideration the problems which 600 families might get into.

Arun Arora, divisional railway manager of Northern Railway, has come out and said that the notices were send because the colonies were unauthorised. The railway authority has said that they want to free the land of the illegal encroachments for future expansion of the railway network. But the plan is only to free the land and there has been no mention of rehabilitation of the people being affected by it.

People in slums live in a permanent threat of losing the shelter they call their home. Their dreams hang in an uncertain sky. The case of Janta Camp and Hafiz Nagar is one example of many camps and people who may lose the right to live any moment. In many cases the people are also relocated, but mostly there is no plan of rehabilitation. There is a difference between relocation and rehabilitation which the authorise forget most of the times. 

This article was first published on LokMarg on August 8, 2015

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