Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Amanatullah Khan, who was detained earlier on Thursday for protesting against an anti-encroachment drive carried out by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in Madanpur Khadar area, has been sent to judicial custody, news agency ANI reported. He was arrested by the Delhi Police two hours before, DCP southeast Esha Pandey said, adding that an FIR was lodged against him.
Besides the AAP MLA, five others have been arrested by the police on charges of rioting and obstructing public servants from discharging duty.
Protests were reported in the area after Khan accused officials of the south Delhi municipal corporation of demolishing the houses of the poor.
When the news of the protests against the anti-encroachment exercise first broke, Khan said he was “ready to go to jail if it saves the houses of poor people”, ANI reported.
“I will support them (civic body) in demolition if there is any encroachment,” the 48-year-old MLA was quoted as saying.
Anti-encroachment drive reached several pockets of south Delhi on Thursday, days after a massive uproar was witnessed in Shaheen Bagh – one of the most prominent areas of the nationwide protests against the anti-citizenship (anti-CAA) law. The Supreme Court was also roped in in the matter, but it refused to step in, saying it cannot interfere with the process at the instance of a political party. The CPI(M) and other petitioners had moved the apex court seeking to cease the demolition exercise in Shaheen Bagh.
On Wednesday, the SDMC took their bulldozers to New Friends Colony as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-run civic body was conducting the first phase of the anti-encroachment drive from May 4 to May 13 in various areas of south Delhi.
Last month, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) had come under fire after it conducted an anti-encroachment drive in Jahangirpuri – days after a massive riot broke out in the area between Hindu and Muslim communities during the Ram Navami procession. Several civil rights groups and opposition parties criticised the move by the civic body. The exercise was later stopped after the Supreme Court passed an order against the same.
All three municipal corporations of Delhi, including SDMC, NDMC and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) are led by the BJP.