Delhi News

Newsmaker | SC case to transfer ‘threats’ to Navratras meat to Shaheen Bagh, a South Delhi Mayor never out of news

The first time Mukesh Suryan, the Mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) who has been going about threatening an anti-encroachment drive under his jurisdiction, hit the spotlight was for something precisely opposite: Suryan was accused of threatening MCD officials to stop the sealing of unauthorised construction in Najafgarh Zone.

That was 2018, Suryan was just a councillor (from Sagarpur), and the matter had landed up in the Supreme Court. An angry Court said at the time that it would not tolerate “daadagiri (muscle flexing)” any more.

For Suryan himself, there was no looking back. During the recent Navratras, his diktat for a ban on sale of meat (a first for South Delhi) had caused panic among traders. However, that sabre-rattling, like the threat of an anti-encroachment drive in Shaheen Bagh among other areas in South Delhi – timed to coincide with the controversy around the Jahangirpuri exercise in North Delhi, which was stopped by the Supreme Court – is often just that, sabre-rattling.

If the diktat on meat didn’t have the sanction of the Municipal Commissioner, who is the executive authority on the matter, the promised anti-encroachment drive fizzled out, at least on Thursday, as police said the application seeking permission for deployment was not sent on time.

However, as Suryan did the rounds of Shaheen Bagh on Wednesday claiming a Jahangirpuri-like exercise, traders in the locality – with its past association with anti-CAA protests hanging over their heads – spent Thursday afraid of what was to come and storing away their wares. At the time of the protests, Suryan had been a Councillor.

Asked about his anti-sealing stand in 2018 and his position over alleged encroachments now, Suryan told The Indian Express: “I was against that particular sealing because it was being illegally done. We are against illegal encroachments.”

At the hearing in the Supreme Court, lawyers for the Forum of MCD Engineers had argued that Suryan not just issued threats but had also ensured the transfer of Municipal Commissioner Vishvendra Singh, who was leading the sealing drive. During a hearing in July 2018, the Court had said: “We would like an affidavit to be filed by a responsible officer of the SDMC explaining the transfer of Vishvendra Singh.”

Pushing for anti-encroachment drives now in Shaheen Bagh, Okhla, Jasola, Sarita Vihar and Madanpur Khadar, Suryan says the MCD will “operate bulldozers” in areas where Bangladeshis and Rohingya have settled and where there are illegal encroachments. He says drives would be against all such illegal encroachments except where courts have ordered a stay.

Suryan has the backing of Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta, who wrote to the Mayors of East and South Delhi Municipal Corporations – which, like North, are run by the party — to identify and demolish “illegal encroachment” by Rohingya and Bangladeshis.

Sources in the corporation say that much like over the meat drive, there is resistance from within the body against Suryan’s latest move. On the Navratra meat ban, the matter had not even been considered in the civic body when Suryan had announced that licences of those selling meat during those nine days would not be renewed in the future.

However, Suryan’s voice carries authority as he can bank on support from fellow councillors, who vouch that he stands by them against the bureaucracy. In February this year, after the Councillor from Roshanpura, Satya Pal Malik, locked up an IAS officer in his office for “not cooperating with his requests to conduct inspections”, Suryan assured that he would get the officer transferred. Within weeks, the officer was shunted.

In party circles, Suryan – who has had a slow but steady rise up the ranks — is known to have the backing of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (a fellow Rajput from Uttar Pradesh) and West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh. He was the education committee chairperson of South MCD, where his focus was on increasing enrolment rate in MCD schools; was active in the BJP Yuva Morcha from 2009 to 2012, holding the post of secretary for a while; and was vice-president of the Delhi BJP youth wing from 2013 to 2014.

From 2015 to 2017, he worked in the national youth wing, before being elected Mayor for the first time.

Born in Baghpat, Western UP, Suryan first came to Delhi in 1999 as he prepared for UPSC exams after finishing graduation from Barot Jat college. On his veering towards the BJP, the 44-year-old says: “Life had something else in store for me. I did courses in information technology but later drifted to politics.”

Alongside, he owns a business that works on IT solutions.

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