Police lathicharged residents opposing the antiencroachment drive near Baba Balak Nath Mandir adjoining Rishi Nagar on Thursday.
Protesting against the police action, residents of the area, which falls under land of Barewal Awana village in ward number 55, pelted policemen and municipal corporation (MC) officials with stones and bricks.
As a result, many people, including residents, police personnel, MC officials and mediapersons, were injured.
Besides, Ludhiana West MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who was supporting the residents, was also injured after a stone hit his head, while Pardee p Kumar, building inspector of MC, got seven stitches for a head injury.
Eventually, to control the situation and disperse the protesters, police used water cannons.
As residents fled to nearby fields to escape police action, MC demolished 18 structures near Baba Balak Nath Mandir. Once ag ain politicians from Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties tried to stop the drive, but failed in front of heavy police force.
Earlier, Congress MLA Ashu, along with par ty councilors Balkar Singh, Maharaj Singh, Gurpreet Gogi and other leaders of the party opposed the drive, while the BJP supporters were led by senior party leader Rajinder Bhandari.
While the politicians argued with the MC officials, residents started manhandling MC officials and policemen, which led them to start lathicharging the residents.
Within a few seconds, the angry residents, whose houses were to be demolished, started pelting the cops and MC officials with stones and bricks, after which the anti-riot vehicle started using water cannons against the protesters. During this some policemen, MC of ficials and mediapersons got injuries.
POLICE SHOW NO MERCY
Though the residents, too, threw stones to oppose t he drive, the police left no stone untur ned to show their cruel side. Residents, who hid in their houses to escape the lathicharge, were pulled out and beaten up brutally.
Thirty-five-year-old Mohan Lal, who was already suf fering from leg injuries, said he was just standing watching the drive, as his house was also to be demolished. But suddenly, several policemen started beating him up with lathis.
“I kept crying for mercy as I already had fractures in both my legs. But the police men did not pay heed. My injuries have now deepened,” he said, weeping.
Police also pitilessly beat up Ram, who was also opposing the anti-encroachment drive, as around 8-10 policemen hit him repeatedly with lathis until he lost consciousness for few minutes.
Besides, several others residents also received injuries during lathicharge.
RESIDENTS, POLITICIANS ALLEGE INJUSTICE
Residents were seen crying during the anti-encroachment drive. They also raised slogans against the Punjab government and MC.
Baljeet Kaur, a resident said, “It is injustice. We had bought this home by paying ` 4 lakh. We had spent our earnings to build up the house.”
According to sources, the MC had also planned to remove the encroachment made for a temple but later the officials decide against it.
MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu said, “The land was allotted in 1989 in this area where homes were constructed. This is totally injustice with residents, as encroachments in other areas are being regularised and MC has cancelled several drives. This is politically motivated. We were demanding time from the officials so that all residents could show their documents. Notices were issued on Saturday and hearing was held on Sunday. Some people were away and did not get a chance to provide documents.”
He also alleged that the structures of five houses were wrongly removed by the MC, as these plots were allotted by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) to the residents.
Assistant town planner (headquarters) Kamaljeet Kaur claimed that they followed the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court to remove these encroachments.
MC ACCUSED OF INACTION AGAINST ITS OFFICIALS, LAND MAFIA
The residents also raised questions about why no action was taken against those who sold these properties to them. According to sources, the land mafia had encroached upon this land and later sold plots to these residents, who claimed to have paid their life-long earnings to build their houses.
They also accused the MC of failing to act against officials, who allowed encroachments to be raised.