Residents of 22 slum tenements in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin on Wednesday said their homes were demolished by the authorities on Tuesday night without prior notice, leaving them vulnerable overnight.

Around 70 people were left out in the open when the demolition action, aided by the police, was taken by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation. Civic body officials said the settlement was an encroachment on public land and the residents were operating shops from the premises.

“Since these were encroachments, we didn’t have to give them any notice. There was commercial activity going on too,” said SDMC spokesperson Mukesh Yadav.

One of the residents, Taslima, said the demolitions were a frantic affair as the families were not given any time to vacate. “The police first take money from us and let us set up jhuggis. Then they tear them down. We have written a letter to the Police Commissioner against this harassment.”

According to a Supreme Court lawyer working with the community, none of the relevant procedures were followed.

“They should have been given a notice. Their inherent right to housing is being denied,” said the lawyer on the condition of anonymity.

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