Violence erupted in Haibatpur in Greater Noida on Monday morning after officials of the Greater Noida Authority (GNA),backed by Gautam Buddh Nagar police,razed illegal houses in the village.
GNA officials said the houses were built on the prohibited green belt,meant for a link road between Greater Noida and the National Highway 24 in Ghaziabad. The residents alleged that close to 3,000 houses were demolished,while GNA officials put the figure at 35.
In retaliation,residents pelted stones at police,torched the office of Palm Olympia property developers and put burning tyres on the road as demolition teams moved in with bulldozers. The villagers alleged that several people,including women and children,were injured in the police action. Police officers,however,maintained that no one was injured.
Officials alleged that plots on the green belt were sold by some builders even after repeated warnings by the authorities. They said the residents were planted by property dealers trying to usurp land in the area.
Some daily wage workers were living there. At least 95 per cent of the structures demolished on Monday were empty. They had dug up craters to prevent the bulldozers from entering the area, an official said.
But those who lost their homes said their houses were not illegal. What is the justification for this demolition when we have registered our houses by all legal means and paid money to the government, said Munni Devi,sitting outside her demolished home.
The people alleged that the authorities did not give them even an hours notice to take out their belongings. Though officials claimed that eviction notices were served to the residents,the villagers denied it. Sarla Devi,another woman whose house was razed,said: In the eight years that I have lived here,I havent received a single notice. If the government says this is illegal,why do they charge us money and register the plots in our name. I have paid Rs 20,000 to the government to get my house registered.
SP (Rural) Ashok Kumar said due formalities were completed by the GNA before the eviction drive. There were minor stone-pelting incidents and a private builders office was burnt by the angry mob. No one was injured, he said.
Kumar said: Five persons have been detained for questioning,but no arrest has been made. If the villagers lodge an FIR against whoever has sold them the plots on this green belt,we promise to help them,catch the guilty and try to recover their money.
Ramesh Kumar,a security guard with a private agency in Noida,said: I had put in my lifes savings into this small house. All my belongings are in the rubble now. Everything is gone.