A Councillor of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had allegedly ordered the demolition of the shanty of 65-year-old Pratima Devi (fondly called Amma) on 30 October. In most likeliness, false allegations of drug-peddling have been used against her to demolish her establishment.
What had happened?
The residents around that area have been complaining about the dirt and the filth around their area created by the stray dogs that Pratima Devi has been tending to for over thirty years.
However, Jai Arjun Singh, a well-wisher of Amma, in his Facebook post has pointed out that this is an entirely false charge against Amma because it is she who has been getting sterilisations and vaccinations done regularly for years. The real danger, he says, is for the dogs becoming scared, uncontrolled and aggressive now – that is after their homes have been demolished.
The chilly weather in Delhi has added to the distress of both Pratima Devi and the dogs.
The Logical Indian had gotten in touch with Jai Arjun Singh – he has been a regular visitor at Amma’s place and also been related to her work. He said, “It is appalling how the officials have been dealing with the entire situation, especially as they brought down the entire house without any prior notice.”
Singh has also pointed out that Pratima Devi has been facing a number of problems as the local authorities have been harassing her over charges of supplying drugs to little boys in the complex. “I know this to be nonsense. A few years ago, when Amma was unwell and didn’t have much support for dog-feeding etc., she allowed a few kids and adolescents to hang around at her place, even sleep on her charpoys etc. – in exchange for what help they could provide with looking after the animals – and some of these kids were addicts. This has made it easier to spread rumours about her,” he explained.
Pratima Devi had managed to get an Aadhaar Card with a “PVR complex” address, and an electricity bill in her name, with a meter. But some of the important documents were being mysteriously stolen in a recent incident.
Singh said, “This evening, some of us had visited Amma. Ambika Shukla, eminent animal rights activist and her team had come over. They have done a commendable job by making a makeshift dwelling constructed with tarpaulin, and we helped clear up a lot of the rubble.”
Singh continued that MCD officials and the policemen have been hovering around the area; the only hope is that no further harassment is done towards the 65-year-old lady. He also mentioned of an interesting incident where he met a ‘junior engineer’ of the MCD, but when Singh tried asking him questions, he evaded them and made his way through the humdrum.
“This incident made me question the dubiousness of the entire situation,” he added.
The Logical Indian also spoke to Sapan, Pratima Devi’s son who was visiting her after he got to know of the incident. “The situation is awful. We don’t know how to overcome these times. I am always worried about my mother, but she won’t come to the village with us. She loves her dogs too much,” he said.
Sapan added how it was an uphill task for them to file complaints in the local police station as they were not ready to do so in the first instant. However, he said, that the well-wishers of Amma have been helping a lot.
Mr Balachandran who has been working very closely with the case, told The Logical Indian, “We did get in touch with the MCD officials, and they are still sticking to the drug peddling story. However, the lawyer from our side has assured us that this is going to be a boomerang for the government officials. They are doing this to hide their inefficiency to tackle the cemetery which has become a hideout for the drug addicts to meet.”
The demolition of Pratima Devi’s establishment comes in the wake of the Delhi government’s recent demolition drive in Kathputli colony in West Delhi. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on 30 October had demolished the famous Kathputli Colony in Shadipur, although it had given a prior notice on 25 October. The police used tear gas and lathi charges on the residents of the colony. This amounted to an outright violation of human rights.
The government authorities have arranged for alternative housing facilities for the residents of Kathputli colony, but there are not in perfect usable conditions.
The Logical Indian urges the concerned authorities to look into the matter seriously and take necessary steps so that innocent lives do not bear the brunt of the decisions. We also request the MCD to take care of the situation of Pratima and ensure that she gets a proper housing facility in the chilling winters of Delhi which are about to come.