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Protests erupt as bulldozers roll into Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh

May 09, 2022 05:24 PM

New Delhi: Protests erupted in Shaheen Bagh on Monday with hundreds of people, including women, opposing the SDMC’s anti-encroachment drive as bulldozers rolled into the area in the presence of heavy police personnel.
Protesters raised slogans against the BJP-ruled South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) as well as the central government and demanded that the action should be stopped. Some women protestors also stood in front of bulldozers to prevent the exercise. Leaders from the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress also reached the spot and staged a dharna against the action. The protest also caused heavy traffic snarls in Shaheen Bagh, Kalindi Kunj, Jaitpur, Sarita Vihar and Mathura Road among other areas.

SDMC’s Central Zone Chairman Rajpal Singh told PTI that the illegal structures could not be removed due to protests. In December 2019, Shaheen Bagh was the centre of protests and sit-ins against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The sit-in was called off in March 2020 when the covid-19 pandemic had struck the city. Last month, an anti-encroachment drive conducted by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Jahangirpuri, which witnessed violence between two communities on April 16, drew widespread criticism. The Supreme Court had to intervene to stop the action there.

Singh said that removing encroachment from any area is their obligatory function which the civic body is doing. "Protests being held are politically motivated. We will do whatever we have to to remove encroachment. Our bulldozers and trucks are still there (in Shaheen Bagh)," Singh told news agency. Senior police officials were also present at the spot along with their personnel to provide security to SDMC officials to carry out the anti-encroachment drive in the area.

"Police personnel have been deployed at the spot where the anti-encroachment drive is being carried out. This is being done to ensure that the civic bodies concerned can carry out their work without any hassle and with all safety," a senior police official said. Paramilitary forces were also deployed to manage the situation, officials said. As South MCD officials with bulldozers reached Shaheen Bagh, some locals started removing their "illegal structures".

Delhi Congress leaders, including party's media cell vice-chairman Parvez Alam, were among those detained by the police. Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta criticised the Congress and AAP for "opposing the anti-encroachment drive" in Shaheen Bagh. "Today it's proved that AAP and its MLAs are supporting Rohingyas and Bangladeshis. Those who are lying before bulldozers will be given a reply by the people. It's unfortunate that AAP and Congress are opposing removal of encroachments in Shaheen Bagh. I urge AAP and Congress not to link encroachment with religion," he said.


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