After more than 700 slum dwellings were cleared in September last year in an attempt to provide space for the creation of a biodiversity park, the residents of Dhobi Ghat, in the Batla House area of Delhi, waged a sustained struggle for their right to housing for four months.
Since then, resident families have been forced to live without a roof above their heads, without food or water, without any documentation. Today, despite the numbing winters in the national capital, in order to claim their housing rights, the citizens have mobilized themselves into the Dhobi Ghat Adhikar Manch (DGAM).
Today more than 200 slum dwellers in the Dhobi ghat district marched to Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan’s office on January 19 against the apathetic stance of the Delhi government led by the Aam Aadmi Party. The march led by women also saw large participation by children who requested an alternate land be given near the demolished site.
A press release issued by Dhobi Ghat Adhikar Manch reads,” The residents to the Jhuugi have been victims of Inhuman intimidation and harassment by the DDA and the Delhi police since September. The slum dwellers are living in the area for the last 25-30 years. It is their legal right according to DUSIB norms that they are provided with alternative housing in the nearby area of their present residence before any government agency demolishes their slum.
— Dhobi Ghat Jhuggi Adhikar Manch (@GhatManch) January 19, 2021
Instead of ensuring proper rehabilitation, the MLA’s office informed that the slum dwellers will be settled for a few days in Ren Basera. The Dhobighat Jhuggi Bachao Committee has rejected the proposal of shifting to Ren Basera for few days. They have reiterated their demand for proper rehabilitation and the end of intimidation by DDA.
The Slum-dwellers demanded that Mr Amanatullah Khan must break his silence on the illegal demolition of slums in his own constituency. He must take up the issue with Delhi Govt to ensure that immediate and proper housing is provided to the slum dwellers.”
Batla House is a Muslim-dominated area located near Jamia Millia Islamia which was the site of the 2008 police encounter. The area’s ghettoization has led to a lack of civic amenities and neglect from the administration.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), working on the instruction of the Centre, has been demolishing slums without giving any notice to the residents.
The slum dwellers had been living in the area for the last 25-30 years and as per the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), it is their legal right that they are provided with alternative housing in the nearby area of their present residence before any government agency demolishes their slum.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court had also stayed the demolition. However, the DDA cleared out the rubble from the area nonetheless, taking away precious documents of the people and leaving many without any proof of their identity.