Urban spaces in India are often battlegrounds between the well-heeled apartment residents and those who have to make do with much more make-shift arrangements. Every once in a while the city will decide that those living in the slums and shantytowns that colour in the lines of our cities' outlines have to be struck down to make way for something more legal.
The video above shot by Wild Films India gives you an idea of what slum demolitions entail, as authorities barrel through the shanty towns evicting people and then send a bulldozer in to clear the place. It's never a happy sight and occasionally it can be tragic.
On Saturday, slums in Delhi's Shakur Basti were demolished allegedly without warning to the residents, leading to the death of a six-month-old baby, besides leaving residents homeless in in Delhi's harsh winter. The "anti-encroachment" drive was undertaken by the railway police to reportedly make way for a new passenger terminal, claiming the slum dwellers were encroaching on railway land.
Saturday's demolition has led to a row between the ruling AAP and the Centre. The Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has said he was unaware of the demolition drive, and is expected to make a statement in the parliament today. AAP legislators have planned a protest outside parliament today.
Kejriwal was quoted by the Indian Express as saying, "Those who have done this (demolition of shanties) are not humans, instead they are animals and bestial." The baby's family told the media, Hindustan Times reported, "A pile of clothes fell on her while they were scurrying to leave their shanty after the demolition began and she was smothered."
The Railways for their part say that three notices had been issued to the slum and that the baby died hours before the demolition.
Slum demolition in urban centres has been taken up by civil society members increasingly over the years. Below is a documentary by Al Jazeera on slum demolitions in Mumbai: