The bulldozers that ran in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri for nearly two hours today despite a Supreme Court order to stop, razed the juice stall of Ganesh Gupta. His entreaties that his stall was running with the permission of the civic body, cut no ice with the officials.
“My shop is in my father’s name. I asked them to see my papers. But they didn’t listen, they used the bulldozer on the shop,” Mr Gupta told NDTV in an exclusive interview today.
The demolition drive had taken place without any advance notice to any of the shopowners or locals, which opposition leaders have called “illegal”. In a space of 2.5 hours, the nine bulldozers brought down more than 20 shops, handcarts and even the outer gate of the mosque that was at the heart of the violence during Hanuman Jayanti.
The officials refused to stop even when the news came of the Supreme Court order, saying they were yet to receive a copy. “There were no officers at the front,” Mr Gupta told NDTV. “I was telling them about the Supreme Court order but no one was willing to listen”.
The juice shop owner also contested the Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta’s claim to NDTV that “The encroachers and the rioters were involved in illegal work”.
On Tuesday, Adesh Gupta had written to the NDMC mayor, asking the civic body to identify illegal constructions by “rioters” in Jahangirpuri and demolish them using bulldozers.
Many, including the petitioners at the Supreme Court, have argued that the use of bulldozers following communal clashes targetting one community, was a disturbing trend that has come to Delhi after states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
“I am not involved with the rioters. My father had been running the shop since 1977, now I am running it. They didn’t want to see the paper,” he said. “It is ok if you want to demolish illegal structures but don’t go after those who have papers”.
Adesh Gupta told NDTV today that the anti-encroachment drive was “routine” and this time, it was “done properly”. “The encroachers and the rioters were involved in illegal work. The civic body takes action against encroachers, we don’t need to give any notice,” he added.
He also accused senior CPM leader Brinda Karat of trying to “protect the rioters”, saying, “Those who went to the court to protect the rioters and encroachers were exposed today. The ma’am (karat) who was carrying the letter was there to protect the rioters”.