Speaker calls it unfortunate incident; Congress criticises displacement of people of illegal colony in winter season

The issue of demolition of some unauthorised constructions and a wall of a 122-year-old mosque at Mehrauli in South Delhi figured prominently in the Delhi Assembly on Thursday. It was also stated by Speaker Yoganand Shastri that despite calls from the Chief Minister’s residence, the DDA went ahead with the demolitions.

Dr. Shastri, who also represents Mehrauli, urged restraint in the matter and said the whole incident was unfortunate. He demanded that Delhi Revenue Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, a couple of MLAs and the Delhi Development Authority officials sit and resolve the issue.

As the House assembled, Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal and Okhla MLA Mohammad Asif trooped into the well holding newspapers that reported about the demolition by the DDA. Though barely audible to the rest of the legislators, as the BJP members were simultaneously protesting on the Parliament attack case issue, they continued with the demand that the Speaker and Chief Minister intervene in the matter.

Following three adjournments and after the BJP members had been expelled, the Speaker gave both the legislators an opportunity to speak. At this Mr. Iqbal claimed that the BJP was responsible for the demolitions. He said the demolition carried out by the DDA was unfortunate, especially since the jhuggi dwellers had been displaced in extreme cold conditions.

Congress MLA Mateen Ahmad, who is also the Wakf Board chairman, said the area in question was a Wakf Board land which had been acquired by the DDA about 25 years ago. He said the Board would recommend to the DDA to reconstruct the wall which had been demolished.

Mr. Iqbal then stated that the demolition took place without any sanction from the Religious Committee which had been constituted by the Lieutenant-Governor for such matters. He cautioned that such incidents could spoil the atmosphere.

Though the brief discussion took place in the absence of the BJP members, the Congress could not make much political gains from it. Mohammad Asif squarely blamed the Congress for the demolition stating that the Centre, State Government, DDA and Delhi Police were all under it. He also walked out of the House in protest.

Dr. Shastri then noted that he knew “the roots of the issue”. Stating that the DDA should not have carried out the demolition, he said: “Twenty days ago four JCB excavators were sent to the area but the Chief Minister told the DDA to stop the demolition.” Unfortunately, he said, after Ms. Dikshit fell ill, some officials of the DDA misrepresented the case to the Vice-Chairman and the demolition was carried out. “From the CM’s residence phone calls were made, but the DDA did not listen.”

Dr. Shastri said only one wall of the mosque had fallen. “Yesterday the Chief Minister had ordered that it be reconstructed,” he said, adding that rehabilitation of those displaced was important.

The Speaker said he had spoken to Ms. Dikshit and it has been decided that Mr. Lovely would along with Mr. Iqbal and Mr. Ahmad meet the DDA officials to resolve the issue.

Mr. Lovely then added that the demolition was “very wrong” and stated that the mosque should not have been touched without necessary approval from the Religious Committee.