Demolition of a night shelter for women and children by the Delhi Development Authority on Thursday evening has triggered a controversy, with the city government expressing its ire and the Delhi Commission for Women instituting an inquiry into the exercise.
Members of DCW termed the action “brutal” as it left over 100 women and children, including orphans, homeless.
The DDA, on the other hand, said its action was legal and in accordance with the court order to remove encroachments from Amir Khusro Park in Nizamuddin. The drive has been going on for a few days now.
The shelter was set up by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), a city government body. DUSIB officials said they had not been intimated about the demolition, but could not provide a clear answer on when the shelter was established in 2011, and whether it had the sanction of the DDA, which owns the park.
CM ‘very sad’
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the incident unfortunate.
“Very sad. Delhi government's shelter home demolished. Women, children rendered homeless. They are being shifted to another shelter home,” he tweeted.
His Cabinet colleague Gopal Rai joined the chorus saying he would request Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal to take serious action against the DDA officials for the demolition of the shelter home.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the demolition, the DCW shot off letters to DDA, DUSIB and Delhi Police seeking clarification on separate points. In the letter, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal also alleged that the policemen with the DDA officials resorted to lathicharge when the demolition was resisted by the shelter occupants.
‘No rehabilitation plan’
“The residents of the night shelter belong to the most downtrodden section of the society and to displace them from a government-run shelter home without proper rehabilitation and prior notice is a direct violation of their human rights. Their only shelter has been demolished apparently without any rehabilitation plan,” said Ms. Maliwal.
The Delhi High Court on Friday heard a plea by the NGO running the shelter and directed the authorities to ensure that all the homeless are accommodated in another shelter home situated in the vicinity.