Displaced from their homes, denied the promised plot of land in lieu, having survived a major fire – which many of them believe was deliberate – and the onslaught of bulldozers, the residents of the resettlement colony in Bawana area in North-West Delhi are angry that no politician has come to them so far to seek their votes for the Lok Sabha polls.
“The Congress, of course, will not get our votes. They are responsible for the manner in which the Delhi Development Authority has denied us our right to live properly,” said an angry Sakina, whose income, just like every other slum resident, dropped sharply ever since she was made to relocate.
“When we were first made to move, they were the ones who gave us false dreams saying we will get a plot here. The Congress leaders gave us a piece of paper with a plot number on it. They gave us some transportation and dumped us here with our belongings. They told us it will take a few months and we will each get a house but we haven’t received anything. Not after eight or nine years,” Sakina complained.
“There is just one option left to us now: to work in that factory nearby. They don’t pay too well but it is too expensive to commute to the city,” chipped in Mohammed Fasin, who earlier lived in the Rajghat area.
The slum is divided on the basis of areas in which the residents lived in earlier. Each block has names of areas like Ashok Vihar, Rajghat and Paschim Vihar.
“Each block has a different story,” said Umesh Singh, adding that there were some who got the promised plot and have built a proper house while others still live in makeshift shanties. For some like Devraj, it is now a struggle for survival. “I am almost 70 and whatever belongings I had managed to create after a lifetime of getting thrown around here and there was lost in the fire,” he cried. For these residents of Bawana, life is a big struggle. The low-lying areas get flooded in the rain; electricity bills have risen sharply; and sanitation remains an issue in the absence of adequate toilet facility.
The residents insist they would be voting for the Aam Aadmi Party this time.
As Mohammed Shaukat said: “The broom people will get our vote. They came here, lived among us and helped us during the fire. They gave us food and water and blankets. We have taken their salt and we will vote for them.”