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DDA excesses in Okhla
Hundreds of poor residents of Zakir Nagar (lane no. 22) near Okhla village in South Delhi were left high and dry after a demolition squad of the DDA, accompanied by the police demolished around 150 brick-built homes on July 2 without any prior notice or announcement. The poor people were not even allowed to remove their belongings. They had no option but to helplessly watch disaster visiting their homes.
Sharing his story of woes, 72-years-old Khuda Bakhsh told The Milli Gazette: ‘we came here some five years back from Seelampur after our home was burnt to ashes in a Babri Masjid riot there. We purchased 110 yards land from a property dealer, Meraj (Sukha), at the rate of Rs. 1,000 per yard. I spent around Rs. 3 lakh on the building. The police and the DDA officials took around Rs. 30,000 to allow the construction.’
Another victim, 50-year-old Husna Ara, told us that her 50-yards-home was all that she managed to build after selling her parental home at Belari village in Moradabad district in UP. She and most residents of the colony (locally known as Patera) had purchased plots from Sukha.
They have all documents of land and citizenship. They were paying electricity bills and some of them had telephone connections too.
They were shell-shocked to find the demolition squad at their doorsteps. When these people tried to protest the demolition, police beaten some of them black and blue and arrested around 35 youth. The police fired, lathicharged and pumped several expired tear gas shells. As a result, some people, including children’s, eyes were badly affected. Besides homes, a mosque was also demolished in the process.
Another victim, 32-year-old-Muhammad Shauqin, told us that Parwez Hashmi (local MLA and Delhi land and transport minister) betrayed us till the last assuring them that no brick will be touched. He alleged that Parwez is totally responsible for our ruin as neither he himself did something nor he let us go to someone else.
There were complaints that none including Asif Muhammad Khan (local councillor) turned up to look and sympathize with them after the demolitions. They were adamant that no local leader is sincere to the cause of the poor public.
Despite these hardships, the residents are determined not to leave the place. They are still camping on their lands facing all odds and dangers.
Asked why Parwez Hashmi did so, what was his interest, a number of residents alleged that Parwez wanted Rs. 20 lakh as protection money. He had allegedly warned the colony residents that if his demands were not met, not a single home of the colony would be left undemolished. 25-year-old Shahabuddin said managing such a huge amount was beyond our capacity.
It is interesting to note that the colony comes under Zakir Nagar but it has been reported as ‘Tuba Colony.’ Destitute residents question if our colony was illegal, why in the first place the police and the DDA officials had allowed us to construct homes on it by taking Rs 5,000 to 20,000 each as per the width and length of the plot.