Mohd Rizwan (35) still remembers the time his home in Shakur Basti’s JJ cluster was demolished over three years ago. “Everything was torn apart. My hut, belongings, my documents… it was all gone overnight,” he said.
On Sunday, when residents of the cluster voted in the Lok Sabha elections, the wounds hadn’t fully healed. Rizwan, like many others, told The Indian Express that they voted for the party that will save their hutments.
Data released by Election Commission shows that Shakur Basti, in Chandni Chowk, had the highest voter turnout in Delhi, at 68.7%. The hutments in the area’s JJ cluster had been demolished in an attempt to evict families from land reportedly owned by the Railways.
Like Jamshed Alam (28), most men here are labourers, and pick up cements sacks from train coaches and load them on to trucks. Alam said, “After our huts were demolished, many Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Ajay Maken and Sheila Dikshit came to visit us. Even Arvind Kejriwal came to the area. They have all been supportive and I feel they will help us.”
In March, the Delhi High Court had granted the families relief by observing that there is no imminent need of eviction until a survey is conducted; arrangements for rehabilitations are made and if relocation is required, they are given enough time.
Mohd Anjar (48) claimed over 5,000 people from the cluster became jobless after jeans, cloth and other factories nearby shut down after demonetisation. “My brother was among those who became jobless. I voted keeping this in mind,” said Anjar.
“We are here today, but we don’t know how long things will stay that way. Someone might come tomorrow and throw us out,” said Santoshi Yadav (48).