Tension gripped Rajnagar town on Tuesday after residents stormed the office of the South Eastern Coal Field Limited on Wednesday to protest eviction notices served on them by the Coal India subsidiary, police said on Wednesday.
However, police foiled the residents’ efforts to vandalise SECL’s state office. Police also registered a case against around 200 people under Section 451 of IPC (for trespassing).
The residents of the town – around 660 km from Bhopal – are facing eviction after the Madhya Pradesh high court ordered eviction of people from their houses, including vacating of government buildings by December 1 to end encroachment on SECL land.
The residents of the town, however, said that SECL doesn’t have lease papers and was using the court order to occupy the land.
SECL has already evicted people from 90 government houses and served notices to people.
"The state government is not listening to our plight and SECL without showing paper of lease is serving notices to residents. Residents have no other way to present their case except agitation," said Abhishek Singh, a local resident.
He also said that the in 2007, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had promised to give land rights to people living in three panchayat areas by converting these areas into a municipality.
"Acting on the announcement, the then collector had even initiated the process but after six years nothing happened," he added.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s MP convener Alok Agrawal said that most of the people have been living in the town for the past 30 to 60 years.
"According to the Limitation Act, they can’t be evicted from the place. Either the government should give them patta or rehabilitate them," said the leader whose party is backing the residents.
SECL sub-area manager Sudhir Kumar, however, said the company is acting according to law.
"SECL is acting on the high court’s order only. The process of eviction is taking place according to the law," he added.