According to officials, some female protesters were detained on Sunday after they allegedly flung red chilli powder at police officers who had been deployed during anti-encroachment drive.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) announced in a statement on Saturday that during the anti-encroachment drive on Friday in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park region, about 1,200 square metres of public land were reclaimed.
Since Friday, the DDA has been conducting the campaign under police protection, drawing criticism from local residents.
Women who were protesting the demolition campaign on Sunday alleged that police officers stationed there used lathicharge on them.
Denying the allegations, a senior officer said, “There was no lathicharge and no one was injured. They (protesters) were obstructing the DDA personnel and the police.
“Some women threw red chilli powder on police personnel and a few of them have been detained. Suitable legal action will be taken.”
The DDA continued with the anti-encroachment exercise on Sunday.
On Friday, the urban body said, “During the demolition programme on 10.02.2023, approximately 1,200 sq m of government/DDA land has been reclaimed from the encroachers so far, and the exercise is on to reclaim the rest of the encroached government land for its rightful use by all citizens as a park.”
As per the officials, the action was taken as part of a demolition drive that will continue till March 9. It comes a month ahead of a G20 meeting planned to be hosted at the archaeological park in south Delhi.
“The court has in the past taken note of the encroachment in the historic park in connection with multiple cases, and many people in the last few decades have built unauthorised structures, some, even five-storey or six-storey, in the area. A notice was issued last December and pasted on walls to alert people,” a senior DDA official had said.
The DDA began a campaign to clear encroachment from its land at Ladha Sarai village in Mehrauli Archaeological Park on Friday in coordination with Delhi Police.
According to the authorities, there are 55 monuments in the park that are protected by the DDA, Delhi’s state archaeological department, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Earlier, a demolition order dated December 12, 2022, was pasted on the walls of illegal structures on the land along with markings with directions to the “encroachers to remove all the unauthorised construction from the land in question within 10 days”, it said.
According to the notice, the land on which the demolition is being carried out is part of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park and the “existing unauthorised encroachment is acting as a hindrance to the development of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park”.
Although the region is under the jurisdiction of the DDA, the heritage structures scattered around the expansive park are cared for by the ASI.
According to official sources, the ASI is also hard at work in preparation for the G20 summit scheduled to take place at the Mehrauli Archaeological Park in early March.
“The High Court of Delhi has, on many occasions, directed the government authorities to secure, protect and preserve the area falling under Mehrauli Archaeological Park by removing illegal encroachment,” the statement said.
“The department is taking the action to remove the unauthorised/illegal encroachment from the government land and also to secure the Mehrauli Archaeological Park from encroachment,” it said.
A “demarcation exercise had been carried out as per direction of the High Court” in the presence of DDA and Waqf Board representatives by the Revenue Department of Delhi in December 2021, it said.