Local activist Sunil Kumar Aledia tried to appeal to the Supreme Court of the capital, but the demolition of the shelters was carried out before the scheduled hearing. In a letter sent by the local government to the company responsible for the demolitions, it is stated that the displacement of the beggars is necessary before the summit of the greats of world politics.
New Delhi () – At least eight night shelters for the homeless were demolished last week in the capital, an operation that local activists say is needed to “beautify” the city ahead of the G20 summit to be held will be held in Delhi in early September.
“After working all day, we come back here to rest and sleep,” he told scroll Jairm Trivedi, a native of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, who makes a living doing odd jobs in the capital: “These hostels gave us the feeling of being at home.”
On March 10, bulldozers entered the Yamuna Pushta riverside area near the interstate bus terminal, leaving thousands of people homeless. For Sunil Kumar Aledia, who runs an organization called the Center for Holistic Development, the government “wants G20 delegates to visit the Yamuna Pushta area. And that’s why these poor people are being expelled.”
The demolitions were carried out by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, a body under the Delhi city government (now run by the Aam Aadmi party) that deals with the relocation of slums and squatter settlements. Company officials claimed they knew nothing of the authorities’ plans in anticipation of the G20. For their part, people using the night shelters said they had received no advance notice: “They came with 200 policemen and they tore down the shelters in the blink of an eye,” said Sharda Sharma, a 49-year-old woman who has spent years living on the banks of the Yamuna River, the largest tributary of the Ganges in northern India.
On December 15, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board had been ordered by the local government to evict the beggars living around the bus terminal. The document, consulted by scrollaffirmed that “the procedure is necessary for the meetings of the G20 summit”.
On March 9, the activist, on behalf of one of the beggars in the area, addressed the Delhi High Court demanding that the shelters not be demolished. The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board then argued that it would dismantle the temporary shelters and that the homeless would be moved to permanent residences. The court then allowed the plaintiff’s lawyers to inspect the newly built shelters and report back to the court on March 14. The report that the lawyers wrote stated that the shelters proposed by the company were not new, they were far away and already occupied.
But the document did not reach the court on time: the shelters (which according to Aledia can house up to 5,000 people) were demolished before the scheduled hearing. In recent days, dozens of homeless people who remain on the banks of the river reported that they were attacked by the police when they tried to prevent the demolition of the shelters. “Sometimes they come with buses and force us out,” added Jairam Trivedi. “Then they leave us in the middle of nowhere.”