Centre, railways responsible for demolition drive: Delhi minister

New Delhi: The Delhi government on Monday blamed the Centre and the railways for what it termed an “inhuman” anti-encroachment drive in west Delhi and asked why it was carried out in the absence of a rehabilitation programme for those evicted.

“The Centre is responsible for the drive. It will be difficult to compensate people who have been living on the (railway) land from the past 20-30 years,” cabinet minister Satyendra Jain said.

“This is an inhuman act on part of railways. Were any arrangement made to rehabilitate these people? It is Centre’s policy that till alternate arrangements are made, no demolition can take place,” the minister said.

More than 500 hutments were demolished by Indian Railways authorities in Shakur Basti in west Delhi on Saturday, resulting in the death of an infant and leaving hundreds homeless in the winter chill.

“What has the railways done till now? They carried out the anti-encroachment drive two days ago but did not provide any alternate living arrangements for the people residing there,” Jain said.

The minister claimed the six-month-old baby died during the demolition drive as the post-mortem revealed the baby sustained head and rib injuries.

“I have ordered a magisterial inquiry into the baby’s death,” Jain said.

He said the drive was aimed at “teaching a lesson to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal”.

“We were not given any information about the (impending) demolition. We came to know about it only after it began. Arrangements such as mobile toilets, sheds, food and blankets have been made by the Delhi government for the displaced people,” Jain said.