Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 27
In a major drive carried out on Friday, over 50 structures constructed in violation of the provisions of the Periphery Act at Khuda Ali Sher village were demolished by the office of the Land Acquisition Officer. The demolished structures included houses, foundations, temporary structures and some shops.
The drive witnessed high drama and strong opposition from villagers and leaders of the Congress as well as the BJP. The police forcibly evicted the protesters and allegedly dragged them. Five persons were injured in the scuffle, while two women were taken to the hospital after they fell unconscious.
The drive started in the morning and witnessed a strong protest from Congress workers, led by Pawan Kumar Bansal, former Union Minister, and Pradeep Chhabra, president of the city unit of the Congress, who, along with the villagers, sat on the road to stop the drive. Local BJP leaders, including Ramvir Singh Bhatti, Hukum Chand and Bhajan Singh Maru, opposed the drive.
Bansal demanded that the drive be stopped, but the officers, led by Arjun Sharma, Land Acquisition Officer, and Virat, SDM (Central), refused to stop the drive in view of the High Court orders. When the villagers refused to leave, the police forcibly removed the protesters from the road.
Three JCB machines, one Poclain machine, two trucks and a large number of employees were engaged in the drive, which continued till the evening.
They lost everything within hours
It was a heart-wrenching scene at the demolition site when women started crying before officers requesting them to spare their houses.
A majority of the houses were constructed recently on land measuring 2 to 3 kanals. Children returning from schools were in for a shock to see their houses being demolished. As families refused to come out of the houses, employees evicted them forcibly. Children also refused to leave their houses.
Khalida, a woman, said she lost everything. She said the family had invested all its earnings in constructing the house, but now they had been left in the lurch.
Malkit Singh, another resident, said he bought the land and the government registered it after he paid the stamp duty. The government provided an electricity connection to them. He alleged that the action was taken without giving any notice to them.
Villagers allege bias in drive
Owners of demolished houses and villagers alleged bias in the approach of the Administration. They said while the poor were targeted, the rich and influential were spared.
A villager said one could see big farmhouses all over the village, but nobody ever touched these.
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