Homeless; Kathputli Colony residents spend nights out in the cold
In what appears to be a Dickensian nightmare playing out in real time, the residents of Kathputli Colony, are forced to spend a bleak Christmas as they fend off DDA officials, the police and para military forces who are forcing them to sign on demolition slips.
The week-long siege is yet to be called off as many residents are now sleeping out in the open buffeted by the cold winds as many of their children have now fallen ill.
“We were told on the first day by the AAP minister that we would not be forced and yet the police and DDA officials have forced us to sign on demolition slips and they broke my house. I am sleeping out in the open with my children and they have developed a serious cold and had to be shifted to my relatives’ place. I do not know what to do next,” said Sanjay, a resident.
Many of them who have been forced are yet to find work and now concentrate on survival as the temperatures dropped and now the residents are at the mercy of the weather.
“I am sleeping out in the open and I just have tried to make a temporary shelter but I don’t think that will hold for long. Today it got really cold and we were not expecting this,” said Lokesh, who is an e-rickshaw driver.
The DDA officials have said that they are helping to make temporary walls for those whose homes have been demolished. Some of the residents also confirmed the fact, as the DDA helped erect a few walls around their houses.
“They made two walls but that is not enough. There are also people who were told that only one wall would be demolished but they managed to break three. They are now told to pack their belongings and shift to the transit camp,” said Azhar, a puppeteer.
The colony was brought under a Public Private Partnership, wherein Raheja Developers had promised to provide the residents with in-situ rehabilitation. However, the contract mentions only 2,800 families, whereas, there are around 3,500 families at present.
Many of them have alleged that their names are not in the survey and that they never signed the demolition slips as well.
There are residents who have been told that the wall next to the Metro and main road will be brought down soon and that some of them had already been rehabilitated by the DMRC so are not eligible for flats in redeveloped Kathputli Colony.
The festive season is a time for bonding with the families, however, many of the residents are now in open confrontation with each other over the issue of shifting to the transit camps. With many refusing to leave unless they get a receiving slip from the authorities.
“There are people from our colony who are telling us to shift to the camp. They are paid by the developers to create such problems but with this weather, I may have no choice. If I shift then I will be seen as a traitor by friends,” said Anil Singhania, a dhol payer.