Nothing very 'shahi' about Shaheen Bagh

There are over 1,000 unauthorised colonies in Delhi and several times in the past residents of these colonies have been promised ‘regularisation’ by the government of the day.

Though some of these illegal colonies have Residents’ Welfare Associations, which file a petition in court to highlight the issue, but for Shaheen Bagh and some other colonies even this is a far-fetched dream.Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh has a population of around three lakh people. It is conglomeration of upper and lower middle class working folks
and a large segment of mostly uneducated and relatively poor people who share the neighbourhood.

But everybody here regulary pay their taxes and bills for basic amenities which ironically, are either non-existent or too few and far between.

Dr Kamal Ahmed, a general physician says, “The problem of water is acute. We have to still buy drinking water here. My patients are not so well-to-do that they can buy water for Rs 20 every day.”

Involved in social activism in his colony, when not attending to patients, Dr Ahmed says, “People here are marginalised in a way that they are afraid to approach the authorities for any kind of help. In a small way I try to help by calling the sweeper and paying them to clean the mountain of garbage that accumulates here every day.

If you call the MCD they say that we do not have sweepers allotted for unauthorised colonies.”

Farooq Azam, a tea stall owner says, “We don’t have electricity here for at least 13 hours during the day. Does any part of Delhi still witness such power cuts which is the peak hour of my job. At night it is fine I can sleep without electricity. I did so in 45 degree temperature in the past summer, but how do poor people earn if there is no electricity.”

Rashida is a homemaker and spends her day at home tending to the needs of her family. She says, “Only those who stay in this place the whole time can say what the civic conditions here are like.

It is stinky and dirty as a pigsty. There are so many shops here that generate refuse in large amounts everyday, where do we dispose it? No one comes to collect garbage here. My problem is not electricity and water, that I have accepted as my fate.

But there is no burial ground anywhere here. We have to pay Rs 12,000 to bury the dead at the Batla House grave yard, which is nearly full and the bodies are now being stacked one over the other.” Speaking to Metrolife Rashida says talking about these issues helps her vent her anger and frustration over the unsympathetic attitude of the government and the civic agencies.

Asad Malik is in Class 12 and says, “I will pass my exams even without electricity and water. But will not dwell on hopes that this colony will ever be any different. When it comes to regularisation, then I must say I have heard about this ‘promise’ since I was a child, and I am fully prepared to grow old listening to these false promises.”
Considering the number of voters in this low profile area, people see no hope for cha-nge, no matter how many elections pass.

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