| Residents of Bhagwat Nagar argue with administration officials, as a tyre burns in the background on Friday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
The administration on Wednesday failed to demolish the illegal structures at Bhagwat Nagar for the second time within a month, triggering posers on the seriousness of the civic body to carry out the Supreme Court order to raze them.
The administrative machinery failed to enter the Bhagwat Nagar Colony despite the presence of a strong police force, including Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Amrit Raj and Patna City superintendent of police (SP) Jayant Kant. Patna district magistrate (DM) Sanjay Kumar Singh and Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal were also witnesses to the meek surrender of the administration to the protest of the occupants of the illegal homes.
Senior administrative officers assembled at the Kumhrar Park area, around 300m from Bhagwat Nagar, with more than 200 constables and labourers around 11am to demolish 50 illegal structures, following the Supreme Court order. Riot control vehicles were there to tame any agitation and a fire tender rolled in to douse flames if anything was set on fire.
But neither machines nor the men were used. The administrative officials surrendered to the agitating residents, fearing law and order problem.
“We had assembled near Kumhrar Park by 11am but there was tough resistance from the residents. Learning that the police force was on the move, a large group of people came to the spot. Some of them burnt tyres along the road. They were not ready to move under any circumstances. So, the administration had to retreat. Any action would have triggered a severe law and order problem. Right now, nothing in concrete can be said but the PMC and the district administration would hold a meeting and decide on the future course of action. But any action is unlikely before Dussehra,” said a PMC source.
Repeated attempts to contact Patna SSP Amrit Raj, PMC commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal and DM Sanjay Kumar Singh proved futile.
Sources pointed out that the state government could not risk a law and order trouble after a bitter experience in Madhubani recently.
“The people of Bhagwat Nagar will do whatever they can to save their homes. They have roped in women and children for protests. Under such a volatile situation, any offensive by the administration can trigger violence. The government will avoid it under any circumstances,” said a district administration official.
On September 12, the Supreme Court had ordered the state government to demolish the 50 illegal structures at Bhagwat Nagar within six weeks.
The administrative machinery had tried to carry out the Supreme Court order on September 26, but in vain. After the second demolition attempt failed, the state government is likely to buy more time in the court.
“The state will file an affidavit seeking an extension of deadline for the law and order problem. In such cases, the court graciously grants more time,” Saket Tiwary, an advocate of the high court, said.