BJP corporator Hasmukh Patel was allegedly tied to a tree and beaten by residents of his ward in Vadodara, who were unhappy with the housing provided to them following demolition of their slum by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC).
The residents of Navi Nagri locality near Bapod lake were relocated in May following a Supreme Court order to clear lakes and water bodies. They were sent 2 km away, under the Slum Redevelopment Policy, to alternative houses built by the VMC.
Patel said he was on his usual round of ward no 5 when he saw residents trying to rebuild their houses beside the lake. After an altercation, they allegedly tied him to a tree and beat him. Patel’s driver complained to the police. The corporator sustained injuries on his hand and leg and was taken to hospital.
Videos of Patel being untied and rescued by the police went viral. The residents, however, denied tying him to the tree.
The police arrested 64 residents, including 34 women.
Vadodara Municipal Commissioner Vinod Rao said he suspected the assault was “motivated”. He told The Indian Express that all 118 slum dwellers near Bapod lake were given pucca houses, which they “happily accepted after filling forms and paying Rs 21,000 as the first instalment. They were staying there without any complaint. The houses are of good quality.”
“This is an instigated and motivated incident,” he added.
Reva Vasava (45), one of those who were relocated, said, “The new houses have no basic facilities, the roofs are leaking. Our slum was razed without prior notice, so some of us started building our homes again. While we were working, the corporator came and fought with us.” She claimed the altercation turned violent and there was a clash. “But we did not tie Patel to a tree,” she added.
Police Inspector A V Parmar said, “The accused allegedly tied Patel to the tree and beat Patel. We observed flags of Bhilistan Tiger Sena (group of tribals in central Gujarat) around the spot, but there is no evidence of their involvement. Investigation is under way.”