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Delhi HC Modifies Stay Order to Allow Kathputli Demolition Drive

The Quint‘s reporter was among the many who were detained by the police under preventive custody.

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A Delhi Development Authority bulldozer carrying out demolition work at Kathputli Colony in the presence of police security in New Delhi on Monday.
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Modifying its stay order, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday allowed the DDA to demolish the slums of those residents of west Delhi's Kathputli colony who were eligible for relocation and had moved out voluntarily.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued the direction while modifying its Tuesday’s order putting on hold the demolition of jhuggis in the area for two weeks.

The court modified its order on an application moved by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which also sought permission to remove the rubble from the site.

The bench, while allowing DDA to demolish the jhuggis of those who had voluntarily moved out or were moving out, said the demolition should not affect the homes of others living there. It also directed the DDA to file a status report indicating who all have moved out of the area and whose slums were demolished.
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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed the DDA’s demolition drive in Kathputli Colony for 10 days, after an appeal was filed by two NGOs following clashes between residents and a joint team of DDA officials and Delhi Police.

Several activists, including Annie Raja, had protested the demolition on Monday and were subsequently injured in the ensuing clashes. Raja was later taken to the nearby RML hospital for treatment.

While the police and DDA denied using any force against the protesters, several members of the crowd were picked up and taken to the police station.

The Quint‘s reporter Kshitij Kumar was among the many who were detained under preventive custody.

Kumar reportedly told the police officials that he was a journalist who had come to cover the protests and had been wrongfully restrained, but his plea fell on deaf ears. He was released later in the evening, after the SHO heard him out and apologised.

Sanjeev, an activist with the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), alleged that police personnel and DDA officials did not allow people to even take out their belongings before bulldozing their homes.

The resistance stems from apprehension in people’s minds regarding DDA’s assurance that the private builder, with which it has entered into an agreement, will build multi-storeyed buildings in the same spot within two years, he told PTI.

"The Delhi High Court in 2014 had stated that the DDA cannot forcibly evict people from their homes. People also do not want to shift to the transit camp in Anand Parbat as the facilities are below par," Sanjeev said.

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Annie Raja's husband and CPI leader D Raja alleged that she was "punched, beaten and dragged by the police”.

Sneha Lata, a member of the Delhi Solidarity Group, claimed that Annie Raja was found lying near a dustbin.

"Doctors at the RML hospital have advised an ultrasound of the abdomen and a CT scan to check if she has suffered any internal bleeding," D Raja said.

DDA Principal Commissioner JP Aggarwal said that the demolition began around 11 am, for which the latest notice were served to them five days ago.

The DDA has made arrangements under which no resident will be rendered homeless, he said.

Spread over an area of around 14 acres, Kathputli Colony was house to a large number of puppeteers, magicians, singers and musicians.

Aggarwal said over 500 slums were demolished on Monday.

It is the first slum in the city to be taken up by the DDA for in-situ (in the same spot) redevelopment with the help of a private developer, who in turn will get a substantial part of land for commercial use.

(With inputs from PTI)

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