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As Bulldozers Roll In Again In Delhi Locality, Residents Barricaded

Local residents were put behind barricades guarded by security personnel

New Delhi:

Bulldozers went to work today in several Delhi localities, including Mongolpuri in the north and New Friends Colony in the south, to remove encroachment.

The exercise, part of a drive by civic bodies to clear illegal construction, is being carried out in the presence of police force to prevent any untoward incident and prevent protesters from stalling the demolition exercise.

While Mongolpuri falls under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, New Friends Colony is under the South Delhi Municipal Corporation – both controlled by the BJP.

Visuals from Mongolpuri showed residents looking helplessly at the demolition drive from behind barricades guarded by police and paramilitary personnel. A resident told NDTV, “People earn their livelihood from this market. No one has built a house, people only set up shops and stalls. Now they have razed it too. Where will the poor go?”

A senior police officer said several people had removed illegal structures by themselves and the remaining were being cleared by the bulldozers.

The officer denied allegations that the drive is targeting a particular community.

Today’s drive comes a day after a similar exercise in Shaheen Bagh, the centre of a protest by women against the citizenship law, was halted following an assurance by Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan and traders that illegal structures will be removed. An FIR was later registered against the Okhla MLA for allegedly obstructing the drive.

Activists and Opposition parties have alleged that the drive targets a particular community, especially after it was carried out at north Delhi’s Jahangirpuri days after a communal clash there during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.

Following the violence, which left eight policemen and a civilian injured, Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta wrote to the north Delhi mayor, urging him to remove illegal constructions by “rioters” in the area.

While mayor Raja Iqbal Singh had said the demolition drive was part of a routine exercise, the timing raised questions regarding political motives.

The matter of demolitions has also reached the Supreme Court. In Jahangirpuri, the exercise was stayed following a status quo order by the court. In its submission, the north Delhi civic body has said that no particular community was targeted and no house was demolished. Contending that only illegal shops were removed, it accused the petitioners of spreading falsehoods.

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