Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

i

Photo: Vikas Kumar

SHAKUR BASTI DEMOLITION

Shakur Basti demolition, one week later: we expect anger, we find joy

Vikas Kumar @CatchNews

'The sewerage is spilling onto the narrow lanes of the settlement. Flies and mosquitoes seem to be relishing the stench that has inter-fused with the air. Virtually every household has someone battling cholera or malaria. There is hardly a day when a body is not carried to the graveyard.

The youngsters of the colony are fed up of knocking at the doors of local leaders. All they have got so far are hollow promises. The fate of the basti seems frozen in squalour and betrayal by the system.

One can easily confuse this Muslim dominated colony with hell. Long forsaken by leaders and officials, the youth is exasperated. The desperation shows in the conversation of a bunch of youngsters, as they while away the evening.

"Danga Bhejiyo Maula (Send us riots, O Lord!)," cries out one of them, raising his hands towards the sky. His peers turn towards him with questioning eyes.

"My grandmother says leaders and officials will visit our basti only if there is a riot. They will not bother to clean up the road and provide electricity until then. It is only a riot that can save us," explained the sobbing lad.

"Danga Bhejiyo Maula..!!" the whole group joins the chorus.'

This part from Anil Yadav's Hindi story Danga Bhejiyo Maula hovers in my mind as I return to Delhi's Shakur Basti a week after it was demolished by railway authorities.

The story has a strange resonance to the milieu that I witness. Before the demolition, Shakur Basti locality was just another slum in Delhi, with choked sewerage and mounds of garbage. But much seems to have changed in one week.

More: Not just the Shakur Basti slum, residents' entire lives were demolished

Last Sunday, this colony was ravaged by a demolition team of the railways. The action caused much furore as an infant died during the action.

When media cameras turned towards the settlement, the leaders and administration officials, too, woke up to its plight. The whole area got cleaned up. The municipal authorities fumigated the locality twice a day.

It was a welcome surprise for the residents of Shakur Basti. The administration had never been this sensitive towards them.

However, life here is back to normal as the din of the controversy has subsided over the week. The area has once again been left to its own devices.

Locals are happy that they have got new roofs and blankets. They hope they won't be uprooted again

The slum has come up once again, exactly as it was a week ago. But this time every roof top is adorned with a yellow plastic sheet given by the administration.

The locals are happy that they have got new roofs and blankets. One cannot miss the hope among the residents that they will not be uprooted again.

Around 5,000 poor migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have made Shakur Basti their home. Many who have lived here for 20-25 years say that the railways department has bulldozed the colony several times in the past. But they have never seen their locality getting so much attention from politicians and the media. To their surprise, the matter was even raised in the Parliament.

The scars of the last week seem to have given way to an elation over freebies like plastic sheets, blankets and food.

More in Catch:

Shakur Basti is not alone: 2 million people live in 6,343 slums in NCT Delhi

Lawless roads: gun-toting UP cop rams my car, pushes me - and gets away

Stop asking RBI to cut rates Mr Subramanian. Arrest food inflation first

Vikas Kumar

Vikas Kumar @CatchNews