No security, no peace of mind for Khanpur Harijan colony

The slum has turned into a hotspot for drug addicts

Karthik Jerome

New Delhi

The residents of Khanpur Harijan colony are teeming under the combined pressure of burglary, marauders and lack of security against them. The residents have witnessed forceful intrusion and their property burned causing them severe trauma.

Devender, 38, owned a Suzuki XS 125 which he bought on loan to go to his office. One night he got up to see a bright streak lighting up his alleyway and felt an intense heat. When he glanced out of his balcony, he saw that his XS 125 was set on fire while the miscreants were running away in their bike. He rushed down in time to douse the fire before it reached the fuel tank thus saving many lives. However, his two-wheeler was charred beyond repair. He was stuck with paying the installments without any mode of transport.

Just adjacent to the S74 street, there is a public urinal constructed close to the vicinity of a house where ladies sit. The urinal is often frequented by drunk men from outside who relieve themselves out in the open causing severe distress to the decorum of the area.
Gulshan, a 35-year-old ladies tailor described how the outsiders come and gawk at women near the urinal. “They come out and relieve themselves out in the open. And when we say something, they hurl disgusting abuses at us” he says.
The residents are dependent on a community hall run by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. It was a single place where the residents could meet over functions like wedding, seminars or anything else. But over years, it has turned into shambles due to no one taking care of it. The bricks have developed cracks and are on the verge of crumbling under its own weight as it doesn’t have any pillars supporting them. The authorities have locked up its gate which has been broken and opened by the miscreants who use the hall as a den for their nightly drug use. The hall is filled with empty smack packets and animal excrements. The place is filled with foul stench and has turned into a breeding place for disease vectors.
But the most disturbing element is the frequent visit of the drug users who come from outside the Harijan colony. They come here after midnight and use smack and sell illicit alcohol. They have even stolen the fans which were inside the hall. Some say these were the same miscreants who had set Devender’s two- wheeler ablaze. The police have been unresponsive in all the situations according to both Devender and Gulshan.

“The major problem here is the lack of CCTVs” say Gulshan and Devender. “Since there are no CCTVs, it has become easier for the miscreants to do whatever they want” they added. According to them, despite the constituency coming under MLA Ajay Dutt an AAP party member, the CCTVs and the CM Wi-Fi still haven’t been set up. The PM Ujwala Yojana also hasn’t reached some of the areas owing to the rivalry between the BJP and AAP. When the electricity goes off it doesn’t return for five to six hours at a stretch according to Devender. During summers, it becomes extremely unbearable. He has also set up his own Wi-Fi for his children’s education adding on to his financial woes. Many school children have been facing difficulties as they aren’t able to attend online classes. They go out to other places with free Wi-fi which helps them attend classes but are sometimes told to leave the place by the residents of that particular locality. Mrs. Sangeeta, an educator with Prayas, a juvenile aid centre takes care of the education of children up to fifth standard. But students above that still need help.

Another major issue plaguing the residents is lack of a decent water supply. Chandrabhan, 55, says that a single pipe provides water to at least 20 houses. “If they had at least one pipe for five houses, it would have been comfortable” he said.

Gulshan says the authorities had come and erected a pipe around eight-months back but still there’s nothing. The long queues for water sometimes turn into ugly fights. He said that even water tankers are not coming on time. Even the drainage is filled with dirty stagnated water which has become a source of diseases.