Clashes broke out between locals and Delhi Police personnel during an anti-encroachment drive by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in Madanpur Khadar on Thursday. Police said AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan was arrested while 12 residents, including a woman and her minor daughter, were detained.
The drive, conducted amid heavy presence of police and CRPF personnel, started around 11.30 am with bulldozers, trucks and officials arriving at Madanpur Khadar and East of Kailash. At Khadar Colony, officials barricaded the street and started tearing down the walls of a five-storey building as well as other buildings. Officials then sent construction workers and labourers to manually break down the buildings — a total of four under-construction residential buildings were partially demolished.
Over 200 residents gathered at the spot while Khan staged a sit-in protest along with his aides. Police said the protest soon turned violent, with locals allegedly pelting stones. A senior police officer said, “It was an unlawful assembly. We were only trying to control it, but they (locals) resorted to manhandling personnel… They were hitting us… We had to retaliate. We detained a few persons for attacking police, obstructing government work, and disrupting peace. They will be released soon.”
DCP (Southeast) Esha Pandey said Khan and five of his associates were arrested. They have been booked under IPC sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 333 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly) and 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), said the DCP.
Locals, however, alleged that police tried to push them and lathi-charged them — claims that the police denied. A few residents and personnel sustained injuries and vehicles were damaged.
The demolition drives
have taken a political hue ever since one was conducted in Jahangirpuri, days after communal violence erupted in the area. An outer gate of a mosque was among the structures taken down there, and the matter had reached the Supreme Court, which effectively stopped the MCD action by ordering status quo. While the BJP has sought to link such drives to “illegal Bangladeshi and Rohingya” living in the capital, the AAP alleges it is a bid by the civic bodies to extort money from people. Thursday was the first time residential buildings have been demolished.
While locals and house owners claimed they weren’t given any notice about the demolition, MCD officials said notices were sent 7-14 days ago.
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SDMC Chairman Rajpal Singh claimed, “These people are living on unauthorised land. We still sent them notices two weeks ago for unauthorised construction. AAP has shown their true face. Amanatullah supports people who illegally capture land and build houses. These people (locals) are Rohingyas and Bangladeshis. AAP supports them and obstructed MCD in its duties. The way they fought today… was horrible. It’s an unlisted colony and we are only doing what should’ve been done years ago.”
When asked for a copy of the notice, Singh refused to share it.
Before Khan, the AAP MLA from Okhla, was detained, he told The Indian Express: “I will not tolerate this. I don’t mind going to jail. They (police) threatened me. I am now silently protesting… it is my right. I am here for Hindus and Muslims who are losing their homes. I was told about the demolition in the morning. The SDMC is randomly targeting colonies. Their officials sent a notice today. Is this legal?”