Some residents of Mehrauli whose houses were also demolished in a similar action taken by the Delhi Development Authority a couple of days ago also joined in the sit-in

A large number of demonstrators led by Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal were detained on Friday while staging a demonstration outside Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s residence here protesting against the recent demolition of houses in Okhla.

Among those detained were the victims of the demolition drive carried out by the Delhi Government on December 3 who claimed that they had legal right over the houses where they had been living for the past several years and said that they also possess relevant documents to back their claim.

The protesters started assembling outside the 3 Motilal Nehru Marg house of Ms. Dikshit as early as 7 a.m. The crowd, initially sparse, grew as the day progressed with more protesters, including Mr. Kejriwal and his key associates such as Manish Sisodia and Kumar Vishwas, joining in.

Some residents of Mehrauli whose houses were also demolished in a similar action taken by the Delhi Development Authority a couple of days ago also joined in the sit-in.

Mr. Kejriwal, who described the act of demolition as a “huge land grab scandal”, demanded that they be allowed to meet Ms. Dikshit who refused to listen to their grievances, according to AAP volunteers. He also alleged that the demolition drive selectively chose their targets as some unauthorised showrooms located next to the colony were not touched by the authorities.

Mr. Sisodia told The Hindu that the Shaheen Bagh colony featured in the list of 1,639 colonies due for regularisation by the Delhi Government.

Later, around 12-30 p.m. the police which had barricaded the area resorted to use of force as the crowd refused to budge until their demands were met. The protesters were then detained and taken to the Parliament Street police station in a bus. Mr. Kejriwal and Mr. Sisodia were seen being carried away by policemen present on security duty there.

Some Shaheen Bagh residents present at the protest venue accused the authorities of being insensitive and said that they were not given enough time to even collect their belongings from the demolished houses.

“I have a family of 11 and all of us are living out on the street in this cold weather. My children have not been able to go to school for the past few days as their books and uniforms kept in the house were destroyed by the bulldozers. We were not even offered an alternative accommodation,” said Mohammad Yasin, one of the affected persons who joined the protest along with some of his family members.

Najma Khatoon, another victim, said that the families had bought the land from agricultural workers more than two decades ago and built houses on them. “We had even shown the papers of the transaction to the officials but despite our pleas, the houses were brought down,” she said.

According to Najma, her family members were even issued ration cards and voter identity cards on the basis of the residential proof of these houses.

The protesters were released in the evening. Following the release, Mr. Kejriwal and a few others went to Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna’s residence and met his Officer on Special Duty. After the meeting, Mr. Kejriwal said the OSD spoke to the Deputy Commissioner of the district concerned and sought a report by Monday.

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