Panipat residents protest demolition of temple, houses on irrigation land
A high drama was witnessed in Panipat on Thursday when hundreds of residents stopped the officials from demolishing houses and a temple illegally constructed on the land of the irrigation department.
The protesters alleged that the temple and houses were built around 30-years-ago and now the administration has declared it illegal. Officials, led by irrigation department executive engineer Suresh Kumar, began the drive and damaged a wall of the temple. This agitated the locals and women lied down before the earth-mover.
There were reports that the locals also pelted stones at the officials as the woman protesters did not allow the officials to continue the demolition. After a high drama of hours, heavy police deployment was made to control the protesters but later, the officials agreed to suspend the demolition drive for a day and the locals agreed to hold a meeting with the deputy commissioner.
Officials of the irrigation department said they have orders to demolish the illegal structures in which around 200 families were living here for past couple of years. The protesters said why were they allowed to construct hundreds of houses and get electricity and water connections for more than a decade.
The executive engineer told HT that the 2km-long and 50m-wide stretch belongs to the irrigation department and the houses were constructed on a 700m stretch.
He said the demolition drive was launched after court orders as all these structures are illegal and did not have any legal document. This is because there is a plan to construct a road as per the chief minister’s announcement.
He said the drive could not be completed due to protests by locals and they will take up the issue with higher authorities.
Panipat SDM Dheeraj Chahal said the demolition drive has been postponed for a day as residents have sought time to meet the deputy commissioner. The notices have already been served to the residents who had illegally possessed the said land.