Infant dies in Rly demolition drive in Delhi

Infant dies in Rly demolition drive in Delhi

A six-month-old infant died reportedly during an anti-encroachment drive of the Railways in Shakurbasti on Saturday, while hundreds of squatters were rendered homeless and forced to brave the chill in the open.

Though a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) probe has been ordered into the death of the infant during the demolition of hutments, the Railways said the child had died before the drive began.

The Delhi government, blaming the Railways for the death, said a murder case may also be registered against those who gave permission for the demolition.

Even the city government body, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), said that the Railways carried out the drive without any survey or rehabilitation plan for slum dwellers, leaving them without shelter in cold weather.

“The Railways did not even inform the DUSIB about the said demolition, thereby causing great hardship to slum dwellers as arrangements such as food and water could not be made for them,” the DUSIB said in a statement.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the demolition site around 2 am and tweeted about the death of the six-month-old. “500 jhuggis were demolished by the Railways in such cold weather. One child has died,” he said.

“Coming back from the demolition site. Heart rending scenes. How cud our own countrymen do this to our poorest fellow countrymen. Spoke to Railway minister Sh Suresh Prabhu also just now. He said he was not aware of this operation. He was also shocked,” Kejriwal tweeted on early Sunday morning.

Soon after the incident, the Delhi government had asked the SDMs concerned to reach the spot and make arrangements of food and shelter for the displaced.

Two SDMs have been suspended for dereliction of duty, tweeted Kejriwal in the early hours of Sunday. “Suspended 2 SDMs ann one SE for not providing relief.
Ordered officers to provide blankets now n food from morn.” PWD Minister Satyendra Jain said on Sunday that an SDM probe has been ordered into the incident.

“The inquiry will look to address two main queries — one, under what circumstances the kid died and who is responsible for the death. Second, under whose direction the jhuggis were demolished,” Jain said.

The minister added that the post-mortem of the child has been done. “The report will make it clear that the kid died of injuries sustained due to falling of iron rods or getting buried (under debris). It’s not that the child died of a natural cause,” said Jain. “An FIR can be registered against those found guilty.”

The PWD minister said that the city government was informed by the Railways that only a few hutments would be razed. “We were told only the new jhuggis would be demolished. But they demolished jhuggis of those staying here for over 20 years,” said Jain.

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