The third attempt of the Amritsar municipal corporation aimed at sealing the illegal hotels in the vicinity of the Golden Temple also turned out to be a damp squib as the MC officials, who had approached the spot with large police force, manpower and machinery to seal and demolish these hotels, yielded as soon as they saw local Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders and BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh supporting the hoteliers.
Armed with 500-plus police personnel, an ADCP, three ACPs and a lot more in terms of men and machinery, the MC officials were stopped near the Jallianwala Bagh area by owners of illegal hotels and 'serais' shouting 'MC go back'. What's more, the hoteliers had the support of a few municipal councillors, who, they claimed, were also members of the hotel association.
They also claimed that they had the support of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who had assured them that their hotels would not be touched and that the government was working at formulating a policy to regularise these hotels through a one-time settlement.
HOTELIERS PROCURE A LETTER IN THEIR FAVOUR
The civic body officials got a shock when the protesting politicians showed them a letter of the chief town planner, stating that the government had started the process of regularising the illegal hotels around the Golden Temple. This letter has been issued on Monday.
This is the very missive that the hoteliers had been toiling to obtain for the past many days and had been camping for in Chandigarh since December 10 and had even visited Chandigarh a few days ago as well.
On December 13 and 14 also, these hoteliers had called on politicians in Chandigarh and Amritsar to save their hotels. As per the content of the letter, the proposal to regularise the illegal hotels near the Golden Temple through one-time settlement on 'as is where is' basis, has been approved in a meeting of the state cabinet held on November 26 and that the government has initiated the process of formulating a policy to regularise the same.
"It had to be so. We had the assurance of the deputy CM that the government was working at regularising our hotels through one-time settlement and that a policy in this regard was being formulated," said Parminder Singh, a hotelier.
However, to cover-up their failure, the MC officials claimed that the drive was called off once again to prevent the law and order situation from getting out of hand. "The drive was called off to prevent the law and order situation from getting out of hand. It has only been postponed for a while and shall be carried outb in the days to come," said municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal.
The MC made its first attempt at sealing these hotels on August 23. The MC officials had to beat a retreat when the owners of illegal hotels and 'serais' put up stiff resistance. Another thwarted attempt was made on October 7, when the MC had to call off the sealing drive after the hoteliers approached the deputy CM.
PHRO TO MOVE COURT AGAINST SIT
Stating that this was the third failed attempt made by the MC at sealing the illegal hotels in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, Sarabjit Singh, principal investigator, Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), which filed a PIL in the court in this connection in 2010, said that the PHRO would file a case of contempt-of-court against the SIT constituted by the Punjab government in this regard.
He added that the court would be apprised of the matter during the hearing on December 19. "The contempt-of-court case would be filed against the SIT in the days to come," he said. He termed the deferred sealing drive of the MC as a 'drama' prior to an appearance in the court. "Normally, they are in the snooze mode, but whenever a high court date approaches, the MC enacts such dramas to suggest that it is working in this regard," he maintained.