POLITICAL BATTLE

Delhi High Court says Shakur Basti slum demolition was inhuman

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said in the Lok Sabha on Monday that the encroachments were a safety hazard that have been impeding development.

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Delhi government, Delhi Police and the Railways concerning the Shakur Basti slum demolition. The court asked for step-by-step details on what was done by the authorities before the incident, reported ANI. The court also lashed out at the Railways, saying the demolition drive was inhuman. It also said that Railways had not learnt from past mistakes.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, before announcing that there will be no further slum demolitions without rehabilitation. Prabhu earlier told the Lok Sabha that the encroachments were a safety hazard that have been impeding development. He added that he will discuss with Kejriwal ways to clear and utilise such public land, reported PTI.

Prabhu also said that the death of the seventh-month-old infant at the site had nothing to do with the demolition. He said that the baby had died two hours before the Railways started razing the encroachments with the help of the police. The Delhi Police said that prima facie the baby died due to suffocation after a heap of clothes fell on her when her parents were preparing to move out of the slum dwelling. It has registered a case of death due to negligence.

Earlier, Kejriwal hit back at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's criticism of his state government over the death of the baby. After the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party crossed swords over the incident on Sunday, Gandhi visited the slum on Monday and said that both the state and central governments are responsible.

Responding to Gandhi's barb, Kejriwal called the 45-year-old Congress leader a child in a tweet, adding that the Railways comes under the central government and not the state.

The AAP government in Delhi earlier ordered a magisterial inquiry into the demolition drive and the death of the six-month girl, reported PTI. Kejriwal on Sunday lashed out at the Railways and suspended three officials for "failing to arrange" food and shelter for those evicted. Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain also visited the area and announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the child’s family.

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