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Railway officials meet angry Delhi CM over demolition

New Delhi, Dec 13, 2015, (PTI) 19:25 IST
 A six-month-old baby died in one of the slum units, which the railways insisted occurred two hours before the demolition started at 12 pm yesterday. pti file photo
After Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's outburst, senior railway officials met him here today to explain why the slum cluster in Shakur Basti was demolished but the "difference of opinion" persisted between the two sides.

Northern Railway General Manager A K Puthia and Delhi Divisional Railway Manager Arun Arora along with some other railway officials met Kejriwal at his residence and briefed him about the drive undertaken at Shakur Basti in West Delhi yesterday.

"We met the Chief Minister and apprised him of the prevailing situation. We explained to him that this demolition drive has no connection with the death of the child," Arora told PTI later.

In the demolition drive, 1200 slum units were removed, with the railways insisting that the action was necessary to clear the "encroachments" for expanding the infrastructure.

A six-month-old baby died in one of the slum units, which the railways insisted occurred two hours before the demolition started at 12 pm yesterday.

"We told the Chief Minister that as per railway rules, we have to inform Delhi police and encroachers before taking any action. And here also, we also followed the rules and guidelines," Arora said.

Asked about Kejriwal's response, the DRM said the Chief Minister told them that whenever railways removes any encroachment in Delhi, they must inform the state government.

"He also said that before removing encroachment, steps should be taken for relocation and rehabilitation of those affected. We told him that his views will be communicated to the Railway Ministry," Arora added.

The DRM said there is a "difference of opinion" between the two sides and "now we will be writing to the railway ministry seeking further direction."

Earlier, Kejriwal slammed the railways and demanded that a murder case be registered against the officials responsible for the demolition as a child had died there.

Police, however, said prima facie the six-month baby died due to suffocation after a heap of clothes fell on it while his parents were preparing to move out of the jhuggi.

According to Northern Railway, the slum cluster which was removed was fresh encroachment.

"These are called soft encroachment for which railway is not liable for relocation and resettlement," a railway official said.

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