Demolitions of homeless shelters in Delhi show a lack of compassion, and a disrespect for the Court

Source– The post is based on the article “Demolitions of homeless shelters in Delhi show a lack of compassion, and a disrespect for the Court” published in “The Indian Express” on 18th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Vulnerable sections of the population. GS1- poverty and developmental issues

Relevance–  Issues related to homeless and destitute people

News– Recently, the officials of the Delhi government arrived without warning with bulldozers and pulled down the shelters for the homeless.

Why is demolishing the shelters for the homeless not a right action?

The official claimed that these shelters were unlawful encroachments. But they had been created by the orders of India’s highest court.

In the Right to Food case, the Supreme Court ruled that every person, including houseless destitute persons, had a fundamental right to life. It was the state’s constitutional duty to ensure decent shelters for all homeless people.

Studies revealed that there were at least six times more chances of dying if you were unhoused as compared to people with roofs over their heads.

What are the reasons behind the poor treatment of destitute and homeless people by the state?

There exist official prejudices against homeless people. It stereotypes homeless people as criminal, drug-abusing parasites dangerous to law-abiding residents of the city. Such criticism neglects their critical role in the city’s economy – as casual construction workers, in eateries, at wedding parties, and as head-loaders, all at dirt wages.

The homeless shelters were demolished to beautify the national capital for heads of G20 countries who will assemble in Delhi later this year. The Indian state, who wants to boost its global profile, considers these shelters as embarrassing sightings for its image.

It shows the absence of elementary public compassion. The state has little care for its poorest citizens and their dispensable lives. But the state can do this because middle-class and wealthy Indians will applaud its resolve to beautify.

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