Over 25 houses demolished without prior notice in Delhi’s Muslim locality: Fact-finding team

A woman stands in front of several demolished houses. | Picture by arrangement

The demolition of houses was carried out in a predominantly Muslim locality in Fatehpur Beri in New Delhi.

Waquar Hasan | TwoCircles.net

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NEW DELHI — Several residents were beaten up and got injured when the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) razed over 25 houses on Friday in southwest Delhi’s Kharak Riwara Satbari area without any prior notice issued to the residents, said a team of activists who visited the site on Thursday said. 

“The team learnt that not only did the DDA not issue any prior notice but it also refused to produce the relevant court orders when the people demanded it,” said the team in a statement on Thursday. 

The team consisted of the activists associated with human rights groups; Akash Bhattacharya from All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Anupradha from All India Lawyers for Justice (AILAJ), Naushad Ahmed Raza from All India Student Association (AISA), and Suman Ghosh from All India Progressive Women Association (AIPWA). 

According to the team, to carry out the demolitions, the Delhi Police resorted to the lathi charge injuring several people including women, and male policemen manhandled the protesting women residents. The residents of the demolished houses were not even given time to rescue their household goods. The DDA officers have threatened to come back with bulldozers after Diwali and demolish more houses.

TwoCircles.net has seen a court order passed by the Delhi High Court on 19 March 2019 directing “to inspect the land in question, located at the Revenue Estate of Village Satbari, near Johod, popularly known as Kharak Rewada, New Delhi, and to take immediate action, in accordance with law, for removal of the unauthorized constructions.”

The court order was passed on the petition filed by Capital Land Builders Pvt Ltd. On 4 February 2021, the court again asked for a status report from the administration in this regard. 

However, a member of the team Akash Bhattacharya told TwoCircles.net that the residents were not shown any court order nor were they given the notice before carrying out the demolition.

“Residents did not know anything about the demolition. The officials came and started demolishing houses. They were not even given time to take out their household appliances,” Bhattacharya said. 

These people were living on the land for around 15-20 years and mostly work as labourers. Around 6000 people are living in the area and over 75% of them are Muslims. They were availing of government facilities such as electricity and water. All of them have electricity. They have bought the land based on the power of attorney and have documents in this regard. However, they don’t have other documents related to the land. Few people have other documents. “However, it does not mean that the demolition is legal. You have to serve the notice before carrying out the demolition. Police brutality is also wrong,” Bhattacharya said. 

According to the team, the police demolished the houses during the time of Friday prayers. They allegedly told the residents that they would face the bulldozing that Muslims of Uttar Pradesh are having to deal with, under the Yogi government.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has brought in a policy of bulldozing houses belonging to the person accused of some crime. The government has mostly used bulldozers against Muslims and demolished the houses of many members of the minority community. The government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in other states such as Madhya Pradesh (MP) and the Delhi municipal corporation also carried out demolition drives on different occasions.  

In Fatehpur Beri, the local MLA Kartar Singh Tanwar, belonging to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also refused to intervene on behalf of the residents when the demolition drive was carried out.

Delhi chapter of the CPI-ML (Liberation) (Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation) termed the DDA’s action as “anti-poor” and “anti-Muslim”. It condemned the DDA’s refusal to serve any prior notice and thereby gave the residents a chance to approach the court and seek a stay.

“We also condemn the brutal police action. We demand that there should be no further demolition without prior notice, due compensation should be given to the victims of this sudden demolition, and the guilty policemen should be punished,” said the CPI-ML.


Waquar Hasan is a journalist based in Delhi. He covers human rights abuses and hate crimes. He tweets @WaqarHasan1231