Living under constant threat of eviction, the residents of Bhagwat Nagar could be in for the worst Durga Puja of their lives this year.
Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) has requested the district administration to provide them with adequate force on October 17 so that the civic body could demolish the 151 illegal structures at the Kankerbagh colony. The Supreme Court has ordered their demolition.
If the civic body gets the personnel, it would get more teeth to bring down the houses of 4,000 odd residents just before the festive season sets in.
The officials in the district administration told The Telegraph on Tuesday that they were indecisive over whether to go ahead with the eviction drive or not because of the Puja. The officials said a large number of personnel is required for deployment at different pandals and traffic points in the festive season.
“A request for personnel has come from the PMC. They want to go forward with the demolition drive on October 17 and have requested the administration to depute adequate force. The administration has sought a reply from the office of the Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP),” said a senior district officer.
He added: “The administration wants to know whether forces will be available on the said date or not. As the pandals for the puja are getting ready, police personnel will have to be deployed there too. Moreover, the cops will be busy with patrolling duty during the entire festive season.”
Another senior police officer said October 17 had been fixed as the final date for the demolition. “October 17 is the final date. The police will provide maximum force to ensure that the Supreme Court order is carried out. We are discussing the finer details,” said the officer.
The residents of the area are battling all odds coming on their way for the past 12 days. They claimed that the civic body’s demolition move after collecting holding tax from them for years was unfair.
“If they want to fight, we will fight too. Why didn’t the state government react to this issue earlier? Why did they collect taxes from us? We are battling everything and staging the protest for days now. If the government wants to evict us, we will not let them do so. It is a fight for survival and we will fight,” said Saroj Kant Tripathy, the president of the Adarsh, Bhagwat, Jai Prakash Nagar Makaan Bachao Sangharsh Morcha.
On September 26, the district officials tried to enter the area for demolishing the houses but they faced stiff resistance from the residents. The protesters torched government vehicles. Since then, the residents are keeping a watch on the government activities. They have even started night patrolling on bikes to keep the government machinery at bay.
The bone of contention is a 22.1 acre government land on which houses, offices and schools have been constructed illegally.