Delhi: Local markets shut to protest MLA Amanatullah Khan's arrest
Local markets in the Okhla Assembly constituency, represented by MLA Amanatullah Khan, remained closed on Friday in protest of his arrest. His wife, Shafia, had urged people to shut markets from 9 am to 5 pm in his support. Khan was arrested on Thursday for protesting against an anti-encroachment drive carried out by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in the Madanpur Khadar area.
Why does this story matter?
- The BJP-controlled Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has faced severe criticism after opposition parties and locals called the recent anti-encroachment drives politically motivated and "anti-poor" ahead of the due MCD elections.
- The recent demolition drive in Jahangirpuri similarly grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons, with many questioning its timing, which came a few days after the area witnessed communal clashes on April 16.
No statement from AAP; Congress questions silence
Notably, since the Aam Aadmi Party MLA's arrest, neither the party nor its chief Arvind Kejriwal has made any public statement on the matter. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh termed the AAP's silence as astonishing. He also claimed that while the AAP supported the BJP on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), Khan has openly opposed them.
Tweet by Congress leader Digvijaya Singh over the issue
I'm ready to go to jail: Khan said before arrest
"I'm ready to go to jail if it saves the houses of poor people. There is no encroachment here. I will support them (civic body) in demolition if there's any encroachment," Khan reportedly said before his arrest. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast) Eesha Pandey said, "An FIR has been registered... Amanatullah Khan...arrested for rioting and obstructing public servants in discharging of their duty (sic)."
Residents allege corruption, say legal structures bulldozed
The anti-encroachment campaign ignited violent protests and stone-pelting in the Madanpur Khadar area, where residents alleged that legal structures had been bulldozed without any prior notice. The police used lathi-charge to disperse the enraged crowd and detained more than ten people, including two women. According to residents, the civic body allowed all the construction after accepting bribes from builders and demanded money from locals.
Anti-encroachment drives in several parts of national capital
The civic authorities have been carrying out anti-encroachment drives in various parts of Delhi since mid-April. The SDMC removed illegal and temporary structures in Madanpur Khadar and Dhirsen Marg on Thursday. It had also carried out similar drives in Najafgarh, Dwarka, and Lodhi Colony a day before. On the other hand, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) acted in Rohini and Karol Bagh.