Officials of Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department 22 July cleared a portion of its land in Delhi’s Madanpur Khadar, including a few tents set up by Rohingya refugees, as part of an anti-encroachment drive.
Refugees alleged a makeshift mosque at their camp was demolished. Officials said that illegal structures were razed as part of the drive.
“There was no demolition of a mosque. From the visuals and clippings, the structure can only be classified as a jhuggi since there was no resemblance to a mosque. Our job was to primarily relocate settlers from Uttar Pradesh irrigation land to separate tents next to Zakat Foundation land. They are very well housed since the tents are of very good quality,” said Vishwendra, District Magistrate, Southeast Delhi.
Uttar Pradesh government officials said that the anti-encroachment drive was carried out on all illegal structures on Madanpur Khadar land, and, hence, the Rohingya camps were removed. They said the refugees had earlier settled on Zakat Foundation land and illegally built permanent and semi-permanent structures on the Irrigation department’s land.
Mahendra Singh, Minister Jal Shakti, Uttar Pradesh, said: “We have successfully carried out the anti-encroachment drive. The Rohingyas have been living without permission on the land and it was necessary to carry this out. They built a makeshift mosque which could have led to a conflict later. In a matter of national interest, the land was cleared. I had earlier written to the Delhi Chief Minister for action as well, but there was no cooperation. I thank the L-G for the help provided and in the coming days, more action will be taken.”
Md Salim (33), the community leader at the camp, said a fire a few weeks ago had destroyed shelters of 16 families. “At 5 AM on 22 July, the mosque, a water pump, and two washrooms were razed by authorities. The 16 families were shifted to temporary settlements on the road. Parts of the road have been carved out for the settlements,” he said.
“This has created havoc for those in the neighbourhood as it is an inconvenience to all and will only lead to fights. Further, there is a risk of accident for these 16 families,” he said.
A meeting had been held between Uttar Pradesh and Delhi government officials on 20 July, following which instructions were issued for land vacation. In total, 53 families live in the settlement. The shelters of the remaining 37 families are intact.