Rahul Gandhi's Mumbai visit: Windfall for locals, slum demolition drive called off

BMC officials say the police refused to provide protection fearing a backlash during Rahul Gandhi’s visit; cops say it was because of a staff crunch

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the Deonar dumping ground has granted a reprieve — albeit temporary — to slumdwellers in Adarsh Nagar in the area. The BMC’s office in Deonar called off its three-day slum demolition drive, scheduled to begin on Monday, due to lack of mandatory police protection for its personnel. The police withdrew its permission for the drive, allegedly fearing a backlash from locals during Rahul’s visit.

A BMC official from the M/East ward said the civic body had undertaken several demolition drives near the dumping ground in the past. “But the police did not provide us protection, citing Rahul’s visit. They were worried that the demolition might trigger protests.”

Balasaheb Jadhav, senior inspector of Shivaji Nagar police station, however, rubbished the claim that the police were afraid of a backlash. “We are not scared of protests. The drive was planned on these three days, but we could not provide protection to the personnel since we are short-staffed.”

The BMC planned to convert the freed-up land post-demolition into a recreation ground to prevent future encroachments.

BMC sources said the officials will submit an application for police permission again some time this week and undertake the demolition drive soon.

Keeping a watch
>> Small fires broke out at the Deonar dumping ground on Monday. Five fire engines and four water tankers have been stationed on the premises.

>> Around 100 police personnel and BMC staff have deputed to the dumping ground

The convoy
>> Rahul Gandhi is expected to visit the dumping ground around 11 am for about 20 minutes. Senior Congress leaders will accompany him. BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta may escort him as well. 

>> The Special Protection Group, in charge of Rahul Gandhi’s security, has cordoned off the area and only a few people will be allowed inside the premises along with him.

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