Same bulldozer, separate goals: How Turkman Gate was different
New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) A young Anees Durrani was a secretary in the Delhi Youth Congress when the Turkman Gate demolition took place. He recalls that the initial plan was to construct a road directly to the Jama Masjid road and decongest it.
People were previously allotted plots in Nandnagri and Jahangirpuri but they did not go there as the areas were isolated.
Durrani recalls that Rukhsana Sultana, who was close to Sanjay Gandhi at that time, used to arrange camps for the poor and also organised health camps.
Durrani, who a few years ago relinquished the post of secretary in the Minority department of the Congress, says that the motive was different then as it was to decongest the area, "but now the BJP is using the bulldozer to target the minority community -- particularly those who are poor, and intimidating them".
The Turkman Gate demolition happened in April 1976, and there were incidents of firing during the Emergency when the police shot and killed people protesting against the demolition of their houses ordered by Indira Gandhi's government.
Though there is no official account of deaths but people remember that a few persons lost their lives. During the Emergency, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's son Sanjay Gandhi launched the demolition drive to clear Delhi of slums. The residents of Turkman Gate refused to move out and the police fired upon protesters but the incident was not reported due to censorship.
Fast forward to May 2022, the ruling BJP ahead of the Delhi civic polls has put the bulldozer on centrestage, taking a cue from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who is called 'Bulldozer Baba'.
The bulldozers, which initially started from Uttar Pradesh, are now being rolled out in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi.
BJP-ruled Karnataka is also mulling to roll out bulldozers to send a strong message about the government's stance on law and order.
Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, who instructed the party ruled municipal corporations to roll out bulldozers to remove encroachments, is now known as 'Bulldozer Bhaiya'.
The BJP tried to use it in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, venue of the anti-CAA protests, but could not succeed.
Also, an AAP MLA who was arrested by the police got bail the next day. However, the AAP and the BJP are now at loggerheads.
Even as Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the issue, the Congress has termed it "match fixing".
Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Ch. Anil Kumar alleged that the Delhi government has woken up very late to the conspiracy behind the "bulldozer politics" in which the Arvind Kejriwal-led government has been a party.
"To mislead the people, Sisodia has written a letter to Amit Shah, terming the ongoing demolition of the structures of the poor people, as 'injustice'... just to shed crocodile tears."
The Congress has called the demolition drive anti-poor and illegal and inhuman from the outset.
Kumar said that when the BJP-ruled MCD started the "bulldozer politics" in Jahangirpuri in April to raze the structures of the poor people -- mostly street vendors, Kejriwal kept silent as if he was not aware of the demolition of the houses and shops of the poor happening under his nose.
The Congress leader added that the Aam Aadmi Party convenor's "silence" clearly indicated that the BJP was carrying out the demolition drive in collusion with Kejriwal.