Acting on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court, the municipal corporation (MC) on Wednesday demolished around 60 illegal constructions in Ghumar Mandi with the help of hundreds of police personnel.
During a hearing on February 25, the high court had directed the MC to decide whether it will regularise or remove certain encroachments within three months.
The drive yet again faced protest from political leaders, as Congress councillor Gurpreet Gogi tried to stop the drive. However, he was detained by the police at the Division Number 8 police station. Ludhiana West MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu claimed that this area was not included in action plan presented by the MC before the high court.
Earlier in the day, the MC officials, wearing safety gear, along with heavy police force, JCB machines and anti-riot vans, moved towards Ghumar Mandi and started the demolition drive around 11:15am. The drive continued for more than seven hours.
Shopkeepers and residents were seen requesting MC officials to halt the drive for some time so that they could take out their articles from shops and houses. But in vain, and many articles got destroyed during the drive.
MLA Surinder Dawar, shopkeepers and residents showed some documents to the officials demanding to stop the drive, but the MC officials did not let up. Several women also tried to stop the drive, but police managed to control the situation.
“I showed documents of my shop to joint commissioner PS Ghuman, but he did not listen to me. They started demolishing my shop without giving any warning to take the articles out of the shop,” claimed Satish Arora, who has a shop of herbal medicines.
“This land was allotted to vegetable vendors, but they sold it. I have been running my shop here for the past 30 years. I also used to pay rent for many years to the shop owner, who passed away,” said Rajesh Kumar, a tailor.
However, the MC officials claimed that they had issued several warnings to the encroachers.
Assistant town planner (ATP) headquarters Kamaljeet Kaur said around 60 structures, including illegal structures of shops and houses, were demolished, adding that the action was taken on the directions of Punjab and Haryana high court.
Joint commissioner PS Ghuman was not available for comment.
'Pick and choose policy followed'
Stating that the demolished structures fell under the TP Scheme, Ludhiana West MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu said, “This was a pick and chose policy under which the MC did not even give time to the residents and shopkeepers to remove their belongings. Shopkeepers have lost expensive goods, while children have been rendered homeless, which is an inhuman act, as even slum dwellers are not thrown out till government provides them with alternative shelter.”
The angry shopkeepers and residents also accused the MC officials of following a pick and choose policy as they had deferred anti-encroachment drive in Pavittar Nagar, Haibowal, due to political pressure on Tuesday. The shopkeepers demanded an answer to why the MC called off that drive?
Traffic snarls were seen as the entry to the Ghumar Mandi market from Aarti Chowk and Ghumar Mandi Chowk was restricted due to which commuters faced inconvenience
Majority of shops in Ghumar Mandi remained closed due to the anti-encroachment drive
A young woman cop fainted during the drive. As there was no ambulance available on the spot, she was taken for medical aid by other cops
There were no arrangements for water due to which police personnel were seen asking for water from nearby shops and houses
'Displaced people provided shelter at dharamshalas'
MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu said the people whose houses were demolished by the MC in Ghumar Mandi would stay in two dharamshalas. “Councillor Gurpreet Gogi has made arrangements for these people, who will also get food and water there,” he claimed.
Several families were displaced on Wednesday after the their illegally constructed houses were demolished. Residents claimed that they had lost many belongings during the anti-encroachment drive.
It is pertinent to mention here that MC had earlier tried to remove these encroachments in February 2012, but councilor Gurpreet Gogi had managed to cancel that drive.