Tension gripped Sion-Koliwada area on Tuesday afternoon as social activist Medha Patkar was detained for stopping a civic squad from evacuating and razing a structure near Roopam theatre.
The Sion police claimed that Sahana builders, who will undertake the redevelopment of the structure, had arranged for an alternate accommodation for the tenants. “Despite serving three notices over the past six months, some tenants were unwilling to vacate the structure. So, the high court asked the civic body to go ahead with the demolition. As the BMC staff asked for protection, police personnel were deployed at the spot,” said inspector A Rahate of Sion police station.
“A single structure and a couple of adjoining unauthorised settlements were razed,” said Sanjay Kurhade, assistant commissioner, F North ward.
Patkar was detained when she tried to resist the demolition drive, said the police. The activist, however, claimed that the court had not issued demolition orders.
“When the tenants asked the police to show the court order, they were not forthcoming. They have also forged a document which has signatures of building tenants agreeing to the redevelopment conditions,” said Patkar.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Rajshri Shirwadkar claimed that no prior notices were issued. “Locals have been opposing the rehabilitation scheme and are against the developer. So, they came out in huge numbers to oppose the demolition.”
Patkar alleged that the police manhandled the crowd, including women protesters.
Refuting the allegations, Vineet Agarwal, additional commissioner of police (central region) said: “Nothing of this sort happened. Women officers were deployed to deal with women protesters.”
The police staff stated that the tenants pelted them with stones.
Agarwal said that a case, on charge of obstructing a public servant from fulfilling his duty, will be registered against those involved in stone pelting. No one sustained any major injury in the incident.