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Power stir stops traffic

Around 3,000 residents of Baldev Basti block the Bistupur-Jugsalai Road on Sunday. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Commuters in general and police in particular got a taste of power politics when a mob of 3,000 slum residents blocked the Bistupur-Jugsalai Road for an hour on Sunday to demand electricity supply.

The people from Baldev Basti, guilty of hooking power from Jusco, not only paralysed traffic on the artery, but also damaged the power box at Jugsalai thana, disrupting wireless communication.

Jugsalai OC Ashok Giri said the slum-dwellers, armed with bamboo poles, stones and such improvised weapons, marched to the police station area around 12.15pm. "What followed was complete anarchy. I tried to reason with the protesters, but in vain. They refused to budge."

Giri confirmed that residents of Baldev Basti were drawing power from Jusco illegally, which prompted the Tata Steel subsidiary to act.

"This morning, we found that there was no power at the police station and quarters on the premises. Our wireless system went dead. We realised that the protesters had damaged the power box provided to the thana by Jusco. Some were even hooking power from us. We informed Jusco authorities and they sent an electrician. Power to the slum was snapped," Giri said.

Biren Kalindi, one of the protesters, claimed they had been deprived of power for a month, which spurred their agitation. Giri later asked the slum-dwellers to write an application to Jusco for legal power lines.

Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan ruled out any possibility to supply electricity to the bustee. "It is against our norms. The slum has come up on encroached land," he said.

Normal traffic was restored on the thoroughfare, which links the city to Tatanagar station, after the blockade was lifted around 1.30pm.

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