Shaheen Bagh demolition drive: Protesters stall process, force bulldozers to retreat | 10 points

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Image Source : PTI

New Delhi: Locals stage a protest during an anti-encroachment drive by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), at Shaheen Bagh area in New Delhi, Monday, May 9, 2022. 

Highlights

  • Protests erupted at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, the scene of epic sit-in against the new citizenship law.
  • Hundreds of people gathered on the streets and atop buildings to stop the demolition drive.
  • Many raised slogans against the authorities and staged sit-ins on the roads.

Protests erupted at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, the scene of the epic sit-in against the new citizenship law, on Monday with hundreds of people, including women, physically blocking bulldozers and forcing the local municipal authority to abandon an anti-encroachment drive.

Here are the top developments:

  1. As soon as bulldozers rolled into the locality, teeming with police and paramilitary personnel, to pull down alleged illegal structures, hundreds of people gathered on the streets and atop buildings.
  2. Many raised slogans against the authorities and staged sit-ins on the roads, while a woman protester hopped onto a bulldozer, the earthmoving machine that has emerged as a symbol of government power in the recent months.
  3. As a fidgety bulldozer driver nervously moved the machine from one part of the street to another amid the unfolding drama, the authorities called off the proposed demolition ordered by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
  4. The SDMC has lodged a complaint against AAP MLA from Okhla Amanatullah Khan and his supporters at Shaheen Bagh police station for obstructing the demolition drive and preventing public servants from discharging their duties. After SDMC officials reached Shaheen Bagh with bulldozers on Monday morning, some locals started removing “illegal structures” on their own, an official said. TV channels showed people pulling down an iron scaffolding in front of a building.
  5. The protesters raised slogans against the BJP-ruled SDMC as well as the Centre and demanded that the action be stopped. Some women protesters even stood in front of the bulldozers to stop them from moving forward.
  6. In December 2019, Shaheen Bagh was the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). The sit-in, largely steered by women, was called off in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the city. The political battle over the proposed demolition drive reached the Supreme Court, which refused to entertain a plea filed by the CPI-M against the exercise, saying it cannot interfere in the matter at the instance of a political party.
  7. A bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai asked the Left party to approach the Delhi High Court instead. “Why is the CPI(M) filing a petition? What is the fundamental right that is being violated? Not at the behest of political parties. This is not the platform. You go to the high court,” the bench said.
  8. SDMC’s Central Zone Chairman Rajpal Singh told PTI that illegal structures in the area could not be removed due to the protests. He, however, added the civic body plans to carry out an anti-encroachment drive near Gurdwara Road at New Friends Colony on Tuesday, while a similar exercise has been chalked out for Meharchand Market in Lodhi Colony near the Sai Baba Mandir and at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium metro station on May 11.
  9. The SDMC has, meanwhile, defended its action, with an official saying that the drive was planned after a thorough inspection. “It is our duty to remove encroachment wherever it is seen in the city. We were only discharging our duty. We will continue our action against encroachment tomorrow and the day after as per our action plan,” the official said.
  10. Later in the day, Delhi BJP Chief Adesh Gupta wrote to SDMC mayor Mukesh Suryan and Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana requesting them to register an FIR against the AAP and Congress leaders who obstructed the anti-encroachment drive. The protests caused traffic snarls at Shaheen Bagh, Kalindi Kunj, Jaitpur, Sarita Vihar and Mathura Road, among other places. 
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Also Read: Shaheen Bagh: SC declines to entertain plea against anti-encroachment drive

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