Monday, Jun 27, 2022
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Opinion

Crushing Dreams And Livelihoods

The recent demolition drives in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh were ‘acts of malice’ by an insensitive administration

Crushing Dreams And Livelihoods
A bulldozer slams an auto rickshaw during the demolition of shops in the area that saw communal violence during a Hindu religious procession in New Delhi’s northwest Jahangirpuri. Photograph: AP

The spectacle of the crushed cart of a street vendor, a small child picking up coins and tetra packs from the rubble of a demolished juice box, and scenes of petrified and humiliated families in Jahangirpuri indicate the fault lines in state-citizenship relations. For those who engage with urban space and politics, the Jahangirpuri incident brings back memories of the infamous Turkman gate demolition during the Emergency 46 years ago; fierce opposition to the demolition had led to police firing and killing of residents of the area. While instances of retaliatory and ‘punishment’ demolition have overt political meaning and manifestation, one is also aware that spatial and political dimensions of large-scale demolition in Delhi have specific phases: before and during the Emergency in the 1970s, before the Asian Games in the 1980s and before the Commonwealth Games of 2010. Similar patterns and phases can be identified in several other big and small cities under the pretext of beauty, aesthetics, urban infrastructure, development, etc. This brings us to the question: how do we comprehend the ordeal of the people at the receiving end of demolition and eviction? How should one relate to the idea of the right to the city for the people on the fringes?

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