Railways demolish 500 shanties; baby dies
- The Shakur Basti slum in West Delhi went under the sword as the Railways, with police aid, demolished 500 shanties leaving about 2,500 slum-dwellers homeless.
- A six-month-old baby died in one of the slum units, but the Railways have denied their involvement.
- According to the Railways, the move, which provoked a lot of criticism, was necessary to clear "encroachments" for expanding infrastructure.
Kejriwal wants railway officers for murder
"A child has died here. It is a very sad thing and I think that a murder case should be registered against the officers. Compensation will be taken from them", Arvind Kejriwal told reporters.
The facts surrounding the baby's death
- Although Arvind Kejriwal wanted the railway officials to face murder charges, the railways insisted that they played no part in the baby's death.
- The police said prima facie the baby died of suffocation after a heap of clothes fell on it while the parents were preparing to move out.
- The Railways claimed that the incident occurred at 10am, 2 hours before the demolition operation.
What the Railways had to say?
- According to Railways, the demolition was carried out after three eviction notices were issued to the slum-dwellers over a period of almost a year.
- Yet, according to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, the Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu was "not aware of this operation".
- "The joint note of police RPF and railway officials at site indicate that removal was done peacefully," said the Railways statement.
Infrastructure expansion the cause for demolition
“There is a need for constructing additional platforms, repairing yard, washing line, maintenance facility and office space for store and engineering division; so that, more long distance and local trains can be handled," said a Railways statement.
Kejriwal suspends Railways officials
- The demolition of Shakur Basti slum in Delhi provoked an unfavourable reaction from the Delhi Chief Minister.
- Arvind Kejriwal arrived at the site around 1.30 am on Sunday and ordered officials to provide blankets and food to the evicted people.
- Kejriwal subsequently suspended 2 Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) and another senior Railways official for "failing to arrange" food and shelter for the evicted people.
Delhi government criticised over slum demolition
- The Delhi government came under fire from the opposition over the demolition of Shakur Basti and the six-month old baby's death.
- BJP leader RP Singh suggested that accommodation arrangements should have been made for the evicted persons through the government's Slum Board which has 5,000 vacant flats.
- Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken suggested that alternatives could have been sought instead of outright demolition.
Delhi Congress chief terms move 'shameful'
"It is shameful. Alternative arrangements should have been made before removing them. They were living there for two decades. When the Congress was in power, we never did this", said Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken.
CM Kejriwal meets with the Railway Minister
- Suresh Prabhu in a meeting with Arvind Kejriwal assured the Delhi administration that "there will be no further slum demolition without rehabilitation".
- Kejriwal also communicated his disapproval over the 'apathetic' way railway officials handled the situation.
- Even the Delhi-HC sharply reprimanded the Railways for having cleared the Shakurbasti shanty cluster "without alternate arrangements" for rehabilitation of its inhabitants "in the biting cold".
Slum demolition: Postmortem suggests baby died due to injuries
- The autopsy report of the child showed that the child had died 30 hours before the autopsy.
- Her death was because of "shock as a result of chest and head injury due to a blunt force impact and that the injuries were caused before her death."
- Further, an interval of 2.5 hours existed between the child's demise and the demolition, "making them unrelated incidents."