Six generations of Kuldeep Singh’s family spent their lives in the home which has now been declared as an ‘encroachment’ by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.
Residents of Barewala Awana, a village which prior to Independence was dominated by Muslim population, are spending sleepless nights these days. The MC has served notices to around 198 households in the area and now the structures can be demolished anytime.
High drama was witnessed on Tuesday morning when the MC suddenly cancelled the demolition drive at Barewala and police force which was called for the drive kept waiting for MC officials at Police Lines.
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The sudden cancellation of demolition of around 95 structures in the village gave a sigh of relief to the villagers who slept outside whole night due to constant fear of demolition and some even started vacating their homes.
However, there are some villagers who possess the allotment documents dating back to 1970 and 1971, and these were submitted to the MC.
However, no response came from MC officials.
The list of encroachments also includes Gurdwara Ravidas Sahib. As per the MC, it too has to be demolished. Talking to Newsline, Harbans Singh, 70, said, “I am 70 now. My father, grandfather and his father all lived and died here. Now when I am also going to die, they are pushing me out of my home. For 60 years it was not an encroachment? Our grandfather told us that it was a Muslim colony and was under panchayat of village. Since the village came under the civic body, it became an encroachment.”
The Aam Aadmi Party intervened in the matter on Tuesday and newly elected Fatehgarh Sahib municipal councillor Harinder Singh Khalsa reached the village with a lawyer. “We are filing a petition in High Court. All people living in this village are Scheduled Caste. The Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, does not allow anyone to uproot them from their homes,” Khalsa told Newsline.
The residents alleged that they were given no time to represent their side. Kuldeep, a resident, said, “Notices have come just a day before. Yesterday we got notices and in the evening they told us to come to MC office. In the morning there were plans to demolish. We are not fools paying water, sewerage, electricity bills for years. We are even paying house tax.”
People alleged that while SAD MLA Darshan Singh Shivalik lived in the same area, he never came to help them. Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, also representing the same area, Ludhiana west, came but offered no hope, said residents.