AN ALLAHABAD roadways bus was torched and several other vehicles damaged as violence broke out during an anti-encroachment drive carried out by the Allahabad Development Authority (ADA) for purposes of widening roads in Phaphamau locality under Soraon police station limits Monday evening.
Heavy force has been deployed with senior officials rushing to the spot. The police said the matter escalated when authorities tried to remove a road-side temple that had illegally come up over a period of time.
According to the police, the ADA was supposed to carry out the anti-encroachment drive on Allahabad-Lucknow highway near Shantipuram in Phaphamau locality Monday afternoon. Rows of illegal shops and some other structures that have come up on the land meant for the road were to be removed. However, as the squad reached the spot, locals put forth their opposition.
When the authorities insisted, some began to claim that the squad was out to dismantle the temple, and turned violent when officials attempted to remove the idol.
“A roadways bus was torched and some other vehicles damaged in the stone-pelting. Locals were against the anti-encroachment drive and made an issue out of the temple. The traffic along the Allahabad-Lucknow Road has been resumed. Efforts are being made to identify the culprits,” said Station Officer (Soraon) Vijay Kumar Singh. Reports suggested that nearly a dozen buses that ply on the busy route were damaged by the mob. There were also unconfirmed reports of a jeep being set on fire.
Circle Officer (Soraon), Dr Lal Pratap Singh said: “The roadside temple became an issue. The anti-encroachment drive was to be carried out for the purposes of road-widening.”
Police sources claimed that some local activists from the right-wing groups had joined the protests after information about the temple’s removal spread.
Senior Superintendent of Police and the SP (Trans-Yamuna) and SP (Trans-Ganga) later arrived at the spot along with heavy police force to maintain calm.
“All the senior officials are at the scene. The situation has been brought under control. However, the police are trying to ensure there is no further trouble. The culprits will soon be identified and an FIR will be registered against those who indulged in violence and arson,” said a spokesperson of the Allahabad Police.