Kathputli Colony residents ‘forced’ to sign consent to shift
Kathputli Colony, a myriad amalgamation of street performers ranging from puppeteers, acrobats, snake charmers, singers and actors woke up to a heavy police deployment numbering in hundreds on Monday.
Barricades were erected on Sunday night itself and in the morning, DDA officials along with the police dressed in riot gears, stormed the colony asking the residents to sign on documents to shift to a transit camp in Anand Parbat.
However, hundred’s of residents claimed that they were forced to sign on the papers as the police intimidated them into doing so. DDA officials along with the police have denied the allegations saying that the people who claimed this are antisocial elements out to create chaos.
“They should send us all to Pakistan; they sent hundreds of police who barged into our homes. They had abused our women and children and said that we were filthy slum dwellers who are destroying the colony. My family has been here for generations and we made this colony and now they want to evict us,” said Fakeera Bhatt, a puppeteer.
Many of the residents in the colony have claimed that they were served no prior notice before the move. The Pradhan of the colony, Dileep Bhatt claimed: “They just came here and started sending out notices. None of the residents had time to go through the notice and then they came with a heavy police force. There are many who want to shift but they would come on their own accord and should not be forced”.
The police along with DDA officials, started to conduct door-to-door inspections and made people to sign on the documents after which their houses were marked using spray cans. “They are taking our photos and videos and then they are forcibly taking our testimonies. They are knocking on the doors of our women and there is no assurance that we would be rehabilitated,” said Zahid Alam, a resident.
However, the colony is split over the issue of moving to the transit camp. Some of the colony residents vented their ire at the media and NGO workers for allegedly disrupting their development. “These NGO people live in good homes and make a lot of money. They don’t want us to move from here and that is their agenda. They don’t want us to develop and want us to stay where we are,” claimed, Rakesh, a musician.
However, everyone was unanimous over the fact that they were being intimidated to shift from the colony. In a shocking case, the police had barged into the house of a mentally unstable woman, Sunita, a widow and mother of three and took her consent for evacuation.
Her daughter, Sanjana said: “They just came in and started asking questions about our house. Then they asked us to furnish our identity proofs after that they made my mother sign on the documents and later left. My mother started panicking and my younger sister started wailing. My mother gets panic attacks and sometimes takes her clothes off because of her problem. She has been like this since she was diagnosed eight years ago,” she claimed.
When her case came to light, Satyendar Jain, the AAP minister along with MLA Vijendra Garg reached the spot and gave her family a patient hearing. Jain told the DDA officials including the Principal Commissioner, DDA, J P Aggarwal: “According to the High Court order, people cannot be forcibly evicted from their homes. If people want to leave their homes on their own accord then they are welcome and those who don’t want to have the right to stay,” he said.
However, the damage had been done as several people came out of their homes and started shouting that they would not be shifted from their homes.