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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Demolition of houses: Section 144 in Daman after residents protest

Around 40 people, including women, were detained from Ram Setu area and were kept in the government high schools at Bhimpore and Zari area that have been turned into temporary detention centres.

By: Express News Service | Surat |
November 5, 2019 10:14:06 am
Demolition of houses: Section 144 in Daman after residents protest Residents protest at Ram Setu area of Daman. Express

A bandh-like situation prevailed in Daman on Monday, a day after people came out on the streets to protest demolition of their homes on November 1 by the administration of the Union territory of Daman and Collector Rakesh Minhas imposed prohibitory orders.

Government schools that were closed for Diwali vacations were turned into temporary detention centres by two successive notifications by the Collector. The collector refused to meet a group of people, including six BJP councillors of the Daman Municipal Corporation, who had come to make representations on the issue.

On November 1, the Daman district administration razed around 90 houses that were illegally constructed on government land on the stretch between Lighthouse road and Jampore beach in Daman. The operation was carried out with police help, following which people took to the streets in protest. Majority of the residents in these houses are fishermen who had been staying in these areas over 10 years.

BJP MP of Daman-Diu, Lalu Patel, wrote a letter to Minhas requesting that the homeless people “be restored their homes at the very sites they were razed, on humanitarian grounds”. Minhas said that the affected families should approach collector’s office and apply for a house under Pradhan Mantri Jan Awaas Yojana (PMJAY).

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On November 2, members of the affected families sat on dharna on the road at Ram Setu area. The authorities reached the spot, talked to them and convinced them to go home. The demonstrators demanded that the authorities should give them alternative houses or flats.

On November 3, local residents joined the affected families and carried out protests and dharna near the football ground. Seeing the large gathering, the local administration called for extra police force to avoid any untoward incident. The protesters shouted slogans against Daman collector Rakesh Minhas who carried out the demolition. Seeing the situation worsen, Minhas issued a notification on Sunday, enforcing section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), banning dharna, rallies, use of loudspeakers, slogan-shouting, etc. in Daman to maintain law and order. Minhas also issued another notification on Sunday declaring the Government High School at Bhimpore in Nani Daman and Government High School at Zari, in Moti Daman as “temporary jails with immediate effect till further orders”.

On Monday afternoon, Minhas called a press conference and announced that the affected families will be given houses under the PMJAY scheme. He said, “We removed 90 houses that were built illegally on the coastal area on the road from Jampore to the lighthouse. Those who lost their houses can apply for houses at the Collector’s office under PMJAY. We will also arrange for the cheapest loans to the beneficiaries… There are some houses under PMJAY ready for which the affected families would be considered on priority.”

“We have imposed section 144 as the situation worsened and normalcy in the district was disturbed. Some people are actively taking part in inciting people. They will be identified and will be dealt with strictly. We have kept the detainees in schools as they are not criminals and schools are closed as of now,” he added. Pointing out that on Monday the situation was normal, Minhas said, “We request the shop keepers and traders of Daman to keep their business establishments open. We want the residents engage in their daily routine activities and maintain a peaceful atmosphere. If normalcy continues for a few more days, we will withdraw CrPC 144.”

However, even after the issuing of the two notifications on Sunday, people continued their protest and shouted slogans. Seeing the situation worsening near the football ground, the authorities tried to disperse the mob with the help of water cannons. As it was not effective, police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the mob and detained a few people from the spot.

In the afternoon, large number of women gathered on the road at Ram Setu area in Daman and protested. Police reached the spot and warned the protesters to leave the spot. When they didn’t budge, police started procedures of detaining them.

Around 40 people, including women, were detained from Ram Setu area and were kept in the government high schools at Bhimpore and Zari area that have been turned into temporary detention centres. The detainees were let off by evening. Daman police arrested eight persons under IPC 188, 143 and 149 and released them on bail later.

On Tuesday, a group of 25 people, including elected BJP councillors from different wards in the Daman Municipal Corporation (DMC) — Lata Tandel (DMC vice-president), Anil Tandel, Chandigari Tandel, Aspi Damania, Hirabhai Tandel and Laxmiben Tandel, with four sarpanches from different villages went to meet Minhas but were denied permission.

DMC municipal councilor Aspi Damania said, “We went there to make representations with six elected municipal councilors of Daman, sarpanch of four villages, and leaders of different business communities. The collector refused to meet us. Our aim was to apprise him about the situation.”

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