‘Will fight for Khori Basti residents till my last breath’

Ex-MP Udit Raj among those detained during protest

Former Lok Sabha MP and Congress national spokesperson Udit Raj along with several others, mostly residents of Khori Basti in Faridabad, was detained by the Delhi police on Thursday for allegedly trying to gherao the Prime Minister’s office seeking repeal of the Supreme Court order for demolition of the 170-acre colony on forest land.

The Khori Basti residents had earlier demonstrated at Jantar Mantar on June 29 and also marched towards the PMO’s office two days ago.

Addressing the protesters, Dr. Raj said his “arrest was the beginning of the war against the dictator Modi government”, adding that this was a war between the rich and the poor. “I will fight the battle of Khori Basti till my last breath,” said Dr. Raj, national chairman, All India Confederation of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes organisations.

Leaders yet to respond

Confederation’s leader Sanjay Raj, who was also detained, said they had been seeking an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for several days, but there was no response. “Neither Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal nor Mr. Modi have heard the complaints of thousands of innocent villagers. The residents of Khori Basti have been requesting the Prime Minister to cancel the order of the Supreme Court so that the lives of lakhs of people and their houses can be saved in these times of pandemic,” said Mr. Raj.

Social activist Meenu Verma said it was inhumane to render thousands of children homeless when the danger of third wave of COVID-19 was looming large. “If the houses of these people are illegal then why were votes taken from them by making false promises,” asked Ms. Verma.

Meanwhile, Faridabad district administration has offered free-of-cost transportation service to the Khori Basti residents to take their belongings to safer places ahead of a massive demolition drive expected to be kicked off in the next few days.

The administration also allowed scrap dealers and those willing to buy the rubble for construction purpose inside the colony to help the residents recover some cost from the demolished houses.

Sources said that around a thousand houses were already demolished, but the massive drive targeting the rest of around 4,000 houses might be kicked off in a couple of days.

The Supreme Court had on June 7 directed the municipal corporation of Faridabad to demolish the houses within six weeks.

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