New Delhi: Students of the Louis Welfare Progressive Association for the Blind who are still battling winter in a makeshift camp after their hostel was razed down by the Delhi Development Authority have now written a letter to Lt Governor Anil Baijal seeking to prosecute DDA and its officials.
Neeraj Batra, one of the students of the hostel, told News18 that the DDA has asked them to be relocated in a community hall temporarily but that would only mean “eventual displacement.”
“It’s a community hall. When there is a marriage or a function, we will be asked to leave and then we would again be without a shelter. Hence, we have demanded that DDA and its officials should be prosecuted and action must be taken for this illegal and inhuman demolition,” said Batra.
The letter, on behalf of the students and the residents of the area, demands that not only should the DDA be charged with but also aims to debunk the claims made by DDA in relation to the demolition.
“In the Delhi winter, we are living in the open. This hostel has been here since 2000. Students have gone on to become IAS and IPS officers from here. The hostel was built with the permission of the then councilor Omkar Singh Yapar and the people in the neighborhood,” reads the letter.
The students have now demanded that the DDA officers who are responsible for issuing the razing orders should be sued.
DDA had previously hit out against allegations that the hostel was wrongfully demolished. In a letter written by the Chief Engineer, SN Singh, it has been claimed that the blind association had “encroached upon the DDA land”.
"This 275 square yard land was encroached by LUI Progressive Association for the Blind and was demolished on December 15," reads the letter issued by DDA.
DDA has also stated that the initial decision of demolition was taken after residents complained of unhygienic living conditions and issues of trespassing. DDA agreed that prior attempts to demolish the property were made on March 15, May 17 and July 14 this year but could not materialize due to non-availability of police force.
SN Singh had earlier told News18 that “any unauthorised structure just because it is existing does not become authorised unless there is a court order protecting it. It's our mandate to demolish unauthorized structures. But there is no end to their refusal and denial.”
The students disagree with the DDA version. “DDA now says that we are living in an unauthorised manner. Does living here for 17 years was unauthorised too? Have they not violated the SC verdict by using bulldozer here? DDA has alleged that the reason for them to demolish the building was that neighbours had complained whereas our neighbours have signed this letter now which shows that they had no problem,” reads the letter.
The students who have maintained that there was no notice given by DDA, have now demanded that their hostel be re-built in the same area where it was demolished.
The letter which has been also addressed to the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment sought compensation for damages and has urged the L-G to take a call after taking “into consideration the special situation.”
On December 22, the Delhi High Court took suo moto cognisance of demolition of the blind hostel and issued notices to the L-G, Delhi government, DDA and the central ministry of social welfare seeking a report in the matter.