Shakur Basti demolition: War of words over child's death

While Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu defended the demolition at Shakur Basti, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Congress VP Rahul Gandhi were busy in a blame game

New Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were locked in a war of words yesterday over the razing of hutments here and the death of a child, which allegedly happened during the demolition.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu yesterday, while Rahul Gandhi visited Shakur Basti. PICs/PTI
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu yesterday, while Rahul Gandhi visited Shakur Basti. Pics/PTI

The Railways had demolished some 500 hutments at Shakur Basti on Saturday, leaving hundreds homeless in the winter chill. An infant died in controversial circumstances during the drive. The grieving father of the six-month-old baby insisted that the girl died in the panic caused by the imminent demolition of hutments. The autopsy report said the death occurred due to head and chest injuries besides shock.

Rahul Gandhi

Prabhu told the Lok Sabha this was untrue and that the child died before the railways started pulling down the hutments, built illegally on railway land, to make way for new rail lines.

Suresh Prabhu
Suresh Prabhu

‘We will fight for you’
Since the demolition, the hutment dwellers are living in the open, at the site, under canvas tents. Delhi’s ruling AAP said it was determined to provide food and shelter to the poor. On Monday Rahul Gandhi met the displaced men, women and children and vowed to fight for their rights. Gandhi said: "We will fight for you... We will raise the issue in Parliament."

Gandhi’s office tweeted that both the central and Delhi governments were to blame for the Saturday demolition. "Now they are busy blaming each other… instead, they should provide help to the people who have been displaced and rehabilitate them."

Kejriwal’s comeback
Kejriwal promptly hit back, saying Gandhi was a "kid" who did not know that the railways which carried out the razing was controlled by the central, not Delhi, government.

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