With the Supreme Court deadline for demolition of houses ending on Wednesday, residents of Bhagwat Nagar locality in Kankerbagh are in a defiant mood and are prepared to face any consequence to save their dwellings.
On Tuesday, men, women and children staged a dharna under the banner of Adarsh Bhagwat Jaiprakash Nagar Morcha and announced that 11 persons, including senior citizens, would immolate themselves on Wednesday in protest against the scheduled demolition of 336 houses in the area.
The Supreme Court had directed the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) on September 8 to demolish houses and clear the 'encroached areas' by September 26.
Residents of Bhagwat Nagar, Adarsh Nagar and Jaiprakash Nagar have decided to launch a 'do or die' agitation. Eleven persons are ready for self-immolation if the PMC tries to demolish their houses. "First, we will try to protest in a peaceful manner. Men, women and children will take out a march. The officials concerned will have to face a strong protest, as it is a matter of life for us," said Morcha president Saroj Kant Tripathi.
"We will lay down our lives for our houses. Where will we go after demolition of our ancestral houses?" he asked.
He accused the state government of a 'mala fide' intention to fan tension in the area. "There is some conspiracy. All men, women and children are ready to face bullets," Tripathi declared.
The area houses several bigwigs, including DIG (Bokaro) Laxman Singh, JD(U) MLA from Dhuraiya in Bhagalpur Manish Kumar, Patna traffic sergeant major Om Prakash Singh, executive engineer K K Singh, CO Sunil Kumar Singh, bank officers, senior officers in the administration, including IAS officers, BDOs, SDOs and others.
"Besides, the buildings of four schools - St Joseph's High School, Litera Valley School, MD Public School and South Point School - are also in the demolition list," said Tripathi.
Ramtirt Paswan, a senior citizen said the issue first came up in 1980. "We have become victims of a conspiracy by bureaucrats. Where do we go? We will be homeless if our dream houses are demolished. We have decided to lie down before the bulldozer with family in a last-ditch effort to avert the demolition."
In the first phase, PMC has identified 336 houses for demolition. Last year, the vigilance wing of PMC had served notices on the house owners on July 29 with a warning that if the area was not vacated, PMC would pull down the structures and impose a penalty on them.
Bihar Rajya Vitta Nirman Sahyog Samiti had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Patna high court in 1990. When the late Dr Gautam Goswami had assumed office as the Patna district magistrate, BRVNSS again tried to get 58 acres of land registered, but had to backtrack due to vehement protests by the residents. Goswami later filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, where the case had landed, detailing the actual status of the land.
Sources said that police officers as well as the Patna administration had conducted patrolling in the areas to launch demolition on Wednesday morning. "Some policemen were trying to identify the 11 persons who have announced that they would try to immolate themselves," sources said.