Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday blamed both the Centre and the Delhi government for the demolition of over 1,000 shanties and the death of an infant last week, as he visited the site in Shakur Basti area of West Delhi and assured the homeless that he will fight their “battle”.
“We will try to help you. As you know we are not in the government, it is AAP’s and BJP’s government. But we will try to protect you, we will fight your battle,” the Congress vice-president told the slum dwellers.
Gandhi said he will raise the issue in Parliament.
“Modi sarkar & Kejriwal sarkar are responsible for what has happened. But now they are busy blaming each other. Instead they should provide help to the people who have been displaced & rehabilitate them,” Gandhi said on Twitter.
Modi sarkar & Kejriwal sarkar are responsible for what has happened. But now they are busy blaming each other #Shakurbasti
Meanwhile, railway minister Suresh Prabhu defended his ministry’s action, saying the child had died before the demolition drive.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Prabhu said, “Despite repeated notices the encroachers did not vacate the place. The child had died before the demolition drive.”
The incidents have triggered a blame-game between the Delhi government and Railways on the one hand and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress on the other.
While police said the six-month-old died after a heap of clothes fell on her, railway authorities said the child died at around 10am on Saturday, two hours before the demolition drive began.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal suspended three city officials for failing to provide relief to those evicted and hit out at the central ministry in a flurry of tweets on Sunday. The Delhi government also ordered a probe into the incident.
The Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which won 67 of the 70 seats in this year’s assembly election, has been locked in a bitter turf war in the capital with the BJP-led Centre.
Kejriwal had rushed to the site on Saturday night and questioned authorities for taking “selective” action, with an AAP minister alleging the residents were “penalised” as they voted for his party.
“There are court orders to raze properties of some rich n politicians in Delhi,” he tweeted. “Those orders r never implemented.”
The AAP also gave an adjournment motion notice in Lok Sabha over the issue on Monday and its MPs protested near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament.
However, senior politicians from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress who visited the area in west Delhi, blamed the CM for not intervening when the drive was on.
More than a thousand people were left homeless on Saturday night, Delhi’s coldest this winter, after the railways pulled down hundreds of dwellings and shops in an anti-encroachment drive to make room for fresh infrastructure.
The girl’s family said she was smothered after a pile of clothes fell on her while they were scurrying to leave their shanty after the demolition began. The railways defended the action, saying they had issued three notices to the slum dwellers to vacate the grounds voluntarily.