The Delhi Police on Thursday arrested AAP MLA Aamanatullah Khan for protesting against an anti-encroachment drive carried out by the BJP-ruled South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in the Madanpur Khadar area where the locals claimed that legal structures were bulldozed. The Okhla MLA, who was a part of the protest, was detained along with others in the morning.
Earlier in the day, the anti-encroachment drives conducted in various parts of the national capital sparked violent protests in southeast Delhi’s Madanpur Khadar. According to the police, the locals in the area tried to stop the bulldozers and pelted stones at security personnel but were chased away.
The SDMC carried out the drive in Madanpur Khadar and Dhirsen Marg, while the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) took action in Rohini and Karol Bagh. Three municipal corporations of Delhi – South, East, and North – are ruled by the BJP.
As bulldozers, surrounded by SDMC officials and the police, rolled into Kanchan Kunj in Madanpur Khadar to raze alleged illegal structures, locals, including women, gathered on the streets and atop buildings to oppose the action. The protesters were joined by Khan and his supporters who raised anti-BJP slogans.
SDMC officials said that two to three illegal buildings and other temporary structures in the Kanchan Kunj area of Manadpur Khadar were demolished. A senior police officer, earlier in the day, said, “We have detained AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan and others who protested against the drive along with supporters and locals. We have made adequate security arrangements to ensure no untoward incident takes place.” Security personnel were seen wearing helmets and carrying batons to disperse the crowd during the protest.
However, the locals alleged the civic authorities had “taken money” to allow construction in the area and called the demolition drive “politically motivated”.
Naushad, a 32-year-old resident of the area, said the demolition began at 11 am and his brother’s building was among the structures razed. “The police as well as the civic body took money and allowed construction around 20 days ago. But despite that, they demolished it. My brother has papers for the plot he purchased from a farmer. The civic body took Rs 3 lakh from my brother. They are not even ready to speak to us now,” he claimed. Another resident of the area told reporters that the action was “politically motivated”.
“There is no encroachment here and even if structures were built illegally then where was the SDMC when such buildings were being built?” he posed.
“I will not let the houses of the poor bulldozed. Arrest me if that saves houses from being demolished. We are also against encroachment. Tell us about those and we will remove it. There is no encroachment here,” the AAP MLA had said.
SDMC Central Zone Chairman Rajpal Singh, however, refuted Khan’s allegation, saying the drive was against the “mafia” who encroach upon government land.
“Our enforcement teams along with an adequate police force and equipped with bulldozers and trucks have started removing illegal buildings, kiosks, temporary structures in Madanpur Khadar. Our drive against encroachment will continue and anyone obstructing it will be dealt with accordingly,” he told PTI.
The fresh actions were a part of a series of anti-encroachment drives by the civic bodies since April-mid.
SHAHEEN BAGH PROTEST
On May 9, the Delhi Police had filed an FIR against Khan and his supporters for allegedly obstructing the anti-encroachment drive in Shaheen Bagh. The SDMC had lodged a complaint with the police against Khan and his supporters, accusing them of obstructing its drive in Shaheen Bagh.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast) Esha Pandey had said, “Based on the complaint received from SDMC, an FIR has been registered against Aamanatullah Khan and his supporters under sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.”
In a complaint to the SHO of Shaheen Bagh, the SDMC’s Central Zone licensing inspector had said that an encroachment removal drive was fixed for Monday on the main road in Shaheen Bagh and its staff and police personnel were present at the site for carrying out the action.
“Amanatullah Khan MLA (Okhla) along with his supporters present did not allow the field staff of the zone SDMC to remove the encroachment. In view of the above, you are requested to take appropriate legal action against Amanatullah Khan and his supporters for interfering in discharge of official duties by public servants,” the SDMC’s Central Zone licensing inspector wrote in the complaint.
Protests had erupted at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh on Monday with hundreds of people, including women, opposing the anti-encroachment drive of the SDMC as bulldozers rolled into the area in the presence of a huge number of police personnel. The civic body team was forced to return without carrying out the exercise.
The protesters raised slogans against the BJP-ruled SDMC as well as the central government and demanded that the action be stopped. Some of the women protesters even stood in front of the bulldozers to prevent the exercise.
On April 20, an anti-encroachment drive was carried out in the Jahangirpuri area which had witnessed a communal clash just a few days ago during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in the area. The drive was halted following a Supreme Court order. In the following days, demolition drives were carried out in areas such as Shaheen Bagh, New Friends Colony, Dwarka, and Najafgarh.
(with inputs from PTI)