Delhi: Intimidation and Harassment of Kathputli colony residents – PUDR Statement

December 21, 2016

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)

Press Statement (20th December 2016)

*Stop the Intimidation and Harassment of Kathputli colony residents*

PUDR notes with concern the intimidation of the residents of Kathputli
colony by the Delhi police since the night of 18 December. While Police
presence was visible in and around Kathputli colony for the past few days,
the police were deployed in large numbers (approx. 250 police personnel) on
18th night and barricades around the colony were erected. 

The next morning, on 19 December, DDA officials along with 
the police went to get the signatures of some residents who 
have decided to shift to a transit camp at Anand Parbat. 

However there are also reports that the DDA officials were
trying to pressurise other residents to sign as well. While the majority of
the residents of the colony are resisting this attempt, the heavy police
presence in the colony is creating an atmosphere of fear among the
residents. Electricity and water connections were cut in the morning but
restored by evening.

Kathputli colony, near Shadipur, is home to around 3700 families of
puppeteers, and other street artistes. In 2008 the DDA conducted a survey
of the land with the intention of selling it to Raheja Developers for
development purposes. The plan includes an in-site rehabilitation of JJ
clusters at Kathputli Colony along with construction of luxury apartments.

The agreement between Rahejas and the DDA was formalized in 2008 but it is
only in 2009 that residents came to know about these plans. Thus there has
been a systematic attempt to exclude the residents from this process. While
the DDA designated 2641 families as eligible for accommodation the
residents through their own survey have found over 3700 families as
eligible. These families possess documents required under the DDA
resettlement policy. Initially the DDA managed to get the consent of some
families to move to a transitory camp in Anand Parbat for the duration of
the project. However the majority of the Kathputli colony residents
resisted the move citing problems in the camp like lack of sanitation. 

The residents also pointed out that the provisions for them in the plan are
inadequate since the DDA has not taken into consideration the housing
requirements specific to street artistes thus seriously endangering their
livelihood. (Refer to PUDRstatement on Kathputli colony, dated 25 February
2014). <>

Furthermore only a small portion of the land is meant for housing Kathputli
colony residents.  More than 4/5th of the land is devoted to setting up of
commercial centres and luxury apartments. This is clearly in violation of
the Master Plan 2021 for land use. Moreover this model of urban land usage
is nothing but development for the rich at the cost of the poor. There are
also serious questions on why the DDA sold land measuring 5.216 hectares to
Raheja developers for a paltry sum of 6 crores which is only 5% of
prevailing market value.

The residents of the colony filed a writ petition (W.P.C. 1290/2014 and CM
APPL. 3834/2014) in the High Court in February 2014. The Court ordered all
genuine families to be included in the list of beneficiaries.  According to
the Order of the Hon’ble High Court, genuine families are all resident
families possessing documents dated before 31-01-2014 and they are to be
included in the list of beneficiary families by the DDA. Only one document
was required to prove eligibility. But DDA has declared most families as
undeserving for the lack of documents in their survey. 

The Court gave orders to improve the conditions at the transit camp 
and for the DDA to respond to the violations of the Master Plan 2021 
found in the plan prepared by DDA and Raheja Developers. 
Finally the Court order also clearly prohibited any forcible eviction 
of the residents of Kathputli colony.

The attempt by the police along with the DDA officials to intimidate
Kathputli colony residents is a clear violation of the Court order. This
attempt at intimidating residents is not new. On the night of 11th/12th August
2014 the police entered the colony on some pretext and beat up colony
residents, injuring many in the process. They also arrested 21 people on
false cases.

Today when residents of Kathputli colony fear police action again, it is
important to remember that in 2014 when police atrocities were committed on
the residents of Kathputli colony an F.I.R. was registered immediately
against the policemen who sexually assaulted the women of Kathputli colony.
Nothing came out of it. The heavy police presence since the night of 18
December is reminder of that violence and injustice.

While the police left around 6 PM on 19th evening, the situation remains
tense for the colony residents. It is essential to understand that these
people are not ‘encroachers’ but have a right to land and shelter.

PUDR demands that:

1)      The DDA and the police stop harassment and intimidation of the
Kathputli colony residents

2)      Every resident of Kathputli colony be given space in the new
accommodations being built for colony residents at Kathputli.

3)      The houses meant for colony residents should be built taking into
account the specific nature of their jobs as puppeteers and street artistes.

4)      The living conditions at the transit camp at Anand Parbat should be

5)      As per the High Court order the DDA and Rahejas adhere to the
guidelines given in the Delhi Master Plan 2021 for land use.

6)      The grievances of the Kathputli colony residents be heard and they
should not be excluded from decisions affecting their lives and livelihood.

Anushka Singh and Cijo Joy

Secretaries, PUDR

20th December 2016