| The demolised horse carriage stand outside Patna Junction station. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Patna, June 25: A nearly hundred-year-old horse-drawn carriage (tum-tum) stand near Patna Junction is gone. The stand was demolished on Thursday by a joint team of Railway Protection Force and the district administration.
Hundreds of tum-tum drivers claimed that they had been conned by the authorities on the pretext of anti-encroachment drive.
“We have been conned by the authorities. They came four days ago and said that as they were supposed to remove encroachment in this area, they would remove the squatters. The next day, they said our union office is also illegally constructed. Hence, they demolished that as well. On Thursday, a force came in the afternoon and brought down the entire structure of the tum-tum stand. These people did not care that besides demolishing a historical monument, they were also disregarding the order of the honourable high court,” said Chunnu Babu, a leader of the Patna District Tum-tum Mazdoor Union.
This is not the first time that the authorities have tried to demolish the stand. Chunnu said the former railway minister wanted to demolish this stand in 2009 to commercialise the area and open a restaurant.
“A strong force had turned up to demolish the structure. They could not succeed because of our stiff opposition. Later, I filed a case in Patna High Court seeking a stay on the demolition order and making it a permanent stand. I got a favourable judgment in May 2009. However, in violation of that judgment, the structure was brought down on Thursday. Besides demolishing the iron structure, they also assaulted some tum-tum drivers,” added Chunnu.
Authorities, however, claim that the judgment in the 2009-case was in their favour.
“According to the judgement in the case between the tum-tum union and the railways, the high court had ordered to remove the stand. However, because of some problem or the other, the stand could not be removed. In the meanwhile, the stand turned into a large encroachment. Many squatters and vendors settled here. We decided to demolish the stand because of the encroachment and the inconvenience it caused to the citizens. So, a contingent of the Railway Protection Force, along with the district administration officials, demolished the entire structure,” said R.K. Singh, the public relations officer of the Danapur division of the railways.
Residents of the city were not very happy with the demolition of the historic stand.
“Such efforts were made even when Nitish Kumar was the railway minister. However, all such proposals were denied back then. Such horse carts are historically and culturally significant,” said Anil Pathak, general secretary, Bihar State Citizens’ Council. The tum-tum stand, which stood near the western side of the station, was built in 1928.