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Did AAP convert Hauz Khas’ Deer Park into a Muslim cemetery?

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Deer Park located in South Delhi, is famous amongst tourists, morning walker, joggers and nature lovers. Image Courtesy: Tripoto

The iconic and picturesque Deer Park, located in south Delhi’s Hauz Khas area, has now become the newest reason for a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) tussle.

BJP’s Shailender Singh Monty has accused AAP’s MLA Somnath Bharti of attempting to grab land in the park allegedly to build a graveyard for Muslims.

Monty has termed the incident as ‘land jihad, alleging that the AAP MLA is attempting to convert the Deer Park, spread across 200 hectares, into a graveyard for the Muslim community, and also alleged that the AAP MLA is trying to open a road through the forest area to benefit a Muslim realtor.

What’s behind the ‘grave’ issue? We try to uncover the truth in the matter.

The ‘land grab’ at Deer Park

The issue first came to light with former counsellor of Municipal Corporation of Delhi from Safdarjang Enclave area Shailender Singh Monty, accusing AAP’s Somnath Bharti of misusing the land and declaring it as a graveyard.

He further alleged that Bharti was trying to exert pressure to transfer it to the Waqf board.

In his accusation, Shailender said, “Somnath Bharti first placed a board in the graveyard inside the park. Later, his men came and cleaned the park. Then, on 10 September, a few people came and buried a body inside the park. Not even a single person was local. Now Somnath Bharti is pressuring the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officers to declare the park as a graveyard.”

Shailender said that Bharti was committing the land grab in order to benefit his friend, a builder by the name of Liyaqat Ali. He added that Bharti wanted to now build a road across the park so that property rates would increase, benefitting his friend.

On Wednesday, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta held a rally at Malviya Nagar to raise awareness about Bharti’s alleged land grab.

At the demonstration, Gupta demanded the resignation of the AAP MLA. “Land worth crores of rupees, which is a part of the Deer Park in Hauz Khas, has been encroached upon for extending a graveyard at the behest of Kejriwal’s close aide and local MLA Somnath Bharti and the Waqf board. The land actually belongs to DDA.”

“After coming to power, the Arvind Kejriwal government is setting new records of corruption, but the BJP will continue to protest against the government-protected land mafia,” he said.

Gupta added that the protest will continue till concrete action is taken against AAP leaders on the issue of land grabbing.

He also demanded Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena punish the accused persons involved in the whole matter.

AAP’s Bharti hits back

The Malviya Nagar MLA belonging to the AAP has laughed off the allegations, saying it was the BJP’s attempt to communalise people for seeking votes ahead of the MCD polls.

“In order to get votes in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, they have started this communal Hindu-Muslim issue. No one came to Somanth Bharti for a graveyard nor have I taken any step in this case. The matter is not of a graveyard but corruption by local BJP politicians. They do not work for the welfare of people but as soon as elections approach, they start raking up communal issues. My constituency will not let this polarisation formula succeed,” Bharti said in a video released on his social media handle.

He added that he would soon be sending a defamation notice to BJP’s Shailender Singh.

This is not the first time that the two leaders have been attacking each other. In 2015, the AAP MLA accused Shailendra of building a hotel on DDA land. He revealed that he had also filed a complaint against him but no actions were taken.

The land in question

The Deer Park, which has led to the two parties fighting, is located in South Delhi and was named after famous social worker Aditya Nath Jha.

The Deer Park along with the connected District Park (that houses the Hauz Khas lake) and adjacent Rose Garden is collectively called the “lungs of Delhi”, owing to their heavy green cover. The park is a common favourite and a respite among Delhites looking for a break from the pollution and dust of the city.

One of the most ecologically sensitive areas in Delhi, it supports a network of various interdependent animal relationships. The sight of deer herds prancing around is very beautiful and not something to miss out on.

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