The Bharatiya Janata Party-led South Delhi Municipal Corporation on Wednesday carried out demolition drives in the city’s Najafgarh, Dwarka and Lodhi Colony, PTI reported. Civic authorities and police faced strong objection from residents and members of the Opposition parties.

Shveta Saini, the chairperson of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation West Zone, said that a drive was also carried out in Janakpuri and Chaukhandi. Some residents of Janakpuri protested against the drive, she said.

“The anti-encroachment drive was conducted despite the protest,” she said, according to PTI. “We have removed only illegal temporary structures and kiosks. It is our duty to remove encroachment and we will continue our crackdown on violators.”

Leaders of the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party alleged that the structures were being razed arbitrarily.

Congress leader Abhishek Dutt said that the party would not let the “bulldozer of hate” run in the National Capital. He questioned why similar action was not taken against farmhouses of affluent persons.

“If the Bharatiya Janata Party wants to run bulldozers, it should run them on unemployment and fuel price rise,” he said. “They should run bulldozers on Chinese encroachment on the borders. We are willing to accompany them.”

Dutt also criticised Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying that he is busy campaigning in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, and is no longer seen in the national Capital. “Kejriwal used to climb electricity poles every now and then,” he said. “Where is [he] now, when bulldozers are being used against the poor?”

The Congress leader shared a video of a man trying to prevent authorities from taking away his cupboard during a demolition drive in Delhi. “Are they Rohingyas?” he asked on Twitter. “This bulldozer of hate will destroy Delhi.”

Meanwhile, AAP MLA Madan Lal alleged that the BJP was threatening the residents of slums that it would demolish their homes if they did not support them, Mirror Now reported. “Due to this fear [of demolitions], the residents were not able to go to work today,” he said.

Lal alleged that the civic body was not giving notices to anyone before demolitions, whether they were taking place in slums or markets.

“The BJP has been ruling the municipal corporations of Delhi for the past 15 years,” he said. “Did these encroachments only come up in the past day?”

However, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s Central Zone chairperson Rajpal Singh claimed that the civic body was carrying out the drive to ensure space for school buses and ambulances, India Today reported. He said that the objective of the drive was not to harass anyone.

Demolition drives in Delhi

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, which is governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, has been carrying out what they describe as an “anti-encroachment” drive in several parts of the city since last month.

The civic body has so far razed structures in Jahangirpuri and Tughlakabad areas. The Jahangirpuri demolitions were carried out on April 20, just four days after the locality was hit by communal violence. The drive had continued for a few hours despite a stay order from the Supreme Court. Almost all the structures targeted were owned by Muslims.

On Monday, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation had planned to conduct a demolition drive in the Shaheen Bagh area. However, it stopped after a massive protest erupted.

On May 12, a demolition drive will be carried out on Dhinsen Marg and Iskcon Temple Marg, and on May 13, the drive will be conducted in the Khadda colony area.