SDMC anti-encroachment drive: ‘We are losing our homes; why is everyone quiet?’

On Thursday morning, businessman Saif Mehboob (28) woke up to news of his five-storey building at Madanpur Khadar being vacated by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) during its anti-encroachment drive. The structure was later partially demolished.

He and his family had put their savings into constructing the residential building last year. On reaching Khadar Colony around noon, he called his father and said: “Sab khatam ho gaya… ab kya karein?”

Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “The building was still being built… We had sold apartments on the first floor. I never received a notice from the MCD. I knew demolition drives were happening, but this is a five-storey building. I received a call from the boys who live as tenants on the first floor. They were told to vacate… they didn’t even have time to take their luggage. I took a lot of money to build this. The area is filled with other unauthorised colonies; why my building?”

Saif’s friends said Thursday was his birthday and he had planned to celebrate with his family. “I tried to show receipts and permits but wasn’t allowed to go near the building. I could only watch it being demolished,” said Saif.

While residents said the SDMC did not issue notices, officials maintained they were sent 7-14 days ago.

Another building owner, Soni, rushed to see her two-storey building being demolished, but was stopped by police at the barricade. She yelled and cried “Ye sab humare saath kyun… ek baar mein ghar tod diya.”

Locals protested as the bulldozers demolished four residential buildings. Ruksaar (21), a resident, said, “We think they will demolish our house next. My mother has lived here for over 30 years. Why is everyone quiet? We are losing our homes. Where will we go?”

Following clashes between residents and police personnel, several were detained. Soni, who was also protesting with the locals, was among those picked up. Her minor daughter tried to push the police and cried as they were dragged to a van. “Main sirf beti ke saath toota ghar dekhne aayi… kya galat kar diya?” cried Soni as the police took her away.

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