Bhagwat Nagar residents thwarted the administration’s demolition bid twice on Wednesday, as the Supreme Court’s deadline to remove encroachers from the Finance Co-operative House Construction Committee’s land ended.
The residents managed to save their homes by sealing all the entry points. They set a car of the administration on fire when it was manoeuvring its way to the colony through a service road.
The protesters had planned to resist advancing police personnel by forming a three-tier ring of women, children and men. But the cops did not force their way in.
Patna senior superintendent of police Amrit Raj said the police had tried to help the administration in carrying out the demolition drive but did not succeed.
“The police tried to enter the colony twice but the protesters did not let them in. The cops have been asked to retreat for now,” he told The Telegraph.
The district administration knew that they had a tough job at hand. But the residents’ determination to save their homes was stronger.
“We will not allow anyone from the district administration to enter this area. Our homes are at stake and we will do anything to protect them. All the roads leading to this place have been blocked and we are on the vigil,” said Kashi Ram, a resident of the colony.
Several people, including women and children, squatted on a dharna braving the scorching heat and humidity. Adarsh, Bhagwat and Jai Prakash Nagar Makaan Bachao Sangharsh Morcha spearheaded the protest.
Saroj Kumar Tripathy, the president of the Morcha, told The Telegraph: “This area houses important institutions like St Joseph's High School, Litera Valley School, MD Public School and South Point School. They are also in the demolition list. Deputy inspector-general of police (Bokaro) Laxman Singh, JD(U) MLA from Dhuraiya (in Bhagalpur) Manish Kumar, several bank officers, block development officers and sub-divisional officers stay here. We have been paying taxes to the corporation for several years. All of a sudden, the civic body announced that the plots did not belong to us and that our homes would be demolished. We will not move come what may.”
Around 11.40am, a group of district administration officers with at least five vehicles filled with policemen surfaced at the scene. As the protesters saw them, they blocked their way by setting tyres on fire. Hundreds of men gathered on Bhootnath Road, the main entry point of the colony, with sticks and started giving slogans. The protesters stopped a car (BR-IU 4965) of the administration set it on fire after allowing persons travelling in it to flee.
Realising that the situation could spiral out of control if force was used, the magistrates left with the police force around 12noon.
Two fire tenders reached the spot after an hour and doused the flames. The protesters did not touch the fire fighters as the speakers at the protest site blared: “We want a peaceful protest.”
Around 2pm, a group of cops marched towards the colony again using the Bypass Road. The protesters greeted the cops with stones, compelling them to retreat.
The protesters remained sitting, though.
“We won’t move. Some of the road blockades will be removed but we will be on the vigil all the time,” a middle-aged woman said.