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    Posted on 07 February 2012

    Delhi police roughs up slum dwellers at peaceful protest

    People beaten up and intimidated for making their grievances public outside LG’s office

    Soumik Mukherjee
    New Delhi

    A file photo of slum dwellers in Delhi collecting their belongings after a demolition drive

    Photo: Tarun Sehrawat

    Delhi police on Tuesday morning came down heavily upon a group of protesters who had gathered in front of Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna’s office. More than 100 slum dwellers from Bawana in outer Delhi had gathered to protest the alleged failure of the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) to allot them houses as part of the rehabilitation for demolition of their dwellings.

    Of the many houses allocated for rehabilitation, 2500 remain empty even with numerous homeless people on the road, the protesters allege. On 18 May, 2010, Khanna had ordered the DDA to facilitate the process of rehabilitating the slum dwellers as soon as possible “but DDA officers kept telling us that we don’t have proper documents to get the houses,” said Umesh, an elderly man from Bawana. “We have ration cards, voter cards and all other required documents to prove our identities but the authorities refuse budge,” he added.

    The protest, which was a peaceful one till afternoon suddenly turned violent when the police intervened. “They started intimidating us since last night. Today around 12.30 pm the police told us to clear the road and leave,” said Zaheer, member of an NGO which works for the welfare of slum dwellers in Delhi. Zaheer was one of the people leading the protest. “We (the people who led the protest) were targeted from the beginning,” he alleged.

    Sunaina Wadhwan, an environmental activist, was beaten up by the police and forcibly taken to the police station. “She was dragged by two female police officers while a male cop slapped her a few times,” said Leelavati, an eyewitness, who came from Bawana to take part in the protest.

    When the Inspector of Civil Lines police station, Sanjiv Kumar, was asked why the people were taken into custody he said, “They just wanted to court arrest”. “None of them were beaten up,” he added referring to the official medical report of the detainees, which showed they didn’t have any fresh internal injury apart from a few scratch marks on their arms or necks.

    When Tehelka inquired about what had caused a peaceful protest to turn violent, the SHO of the Civil Lines police station answered in rhetoric, saying, “Yeh jhuggi walo ko protest kyun karna hai?” (Why do the slum dwellers even need to protest?).

    Soumik Mukherjee is a Photo Correspondent with Tehelka.
    [email protected]

    Editing by Arpit Parashar

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    Posted on 07 February 2012



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