In her 75 years, Dilbari has lost her home thrice — first, when she got married as a teenager; then last year when her son threw her out on the streets; and finally on Thursday when the shelter home where she lived was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority.
Along with her, 50 children and 15-20 women have been rendered homeless. The shelter, opposite the Nizamuddin dargah, was run by NGOs SPYM and Wishes and Blessings Foundation. “The children have been temporarily put up in a room at a permanent shelter for de-addiction. There was no choice, we couldn’t let them stay on the road. But I couldn’t sleep last night, it’s such a safety hazard,” said Dr Geetanjali Chopra, director, Wishes and Blessings Foundation.
Ten-year-old Jaaved said he was having lunch with the other children, when officials walked in and asked them to leave. “This was my home, I have lost my home. What do I do now?” he asked, his face and clothes covered in dust.
Seated next to him on the pavement on Friday afternoon was 55-year-old Rabbiya. “I had just stepped in for a shower… By the time I got out, bulldozers were waiting outside. I didn’t even have time to collect my belongings. Now we are back on the road. We are scared of sleeping in the open.”
Chopra said ever since her NGO got involved with the shelter, it has been spruced up.
“I know there was a court order for removal of the Nizamuddin basti but this shelter wasn’t part of it. We were assured by the DDA several times that nothing would happen to the shelter. But it was demolished on Thursday. DUSIB has assured us that a temporary structure will be built in the next 15 days,” she said.
CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “V sad. Del govt’s shelter home demolished. Women, children rendered homeless. They r being shifted to another shelter home.”