An Assistant Town Planner was allegedly assaulted by a mob led by politicians when he led a team to demolish illegal constructions in Panipat town of Haryana Thursday.
While Assistant Town Planner Naveen Kumar has not named any political leader in an FIR that has been lodged in the case, sources in the police and Town and Country Planning department said former Panipat mayor Bhupinder Singh’s role in the whole episode is under police scanner. Singh, who is also father of sitting Panipat Mayor Avneet Kaur, meanwhile has claimed that he did not assault the officer and instead protected him from the mob.
According to the FIR, Kumar along with Duty Magistrate Anil Kaushik and other officials had gone to demolish the illegal constructions Thursday as per the orders issued on February 6. “The mob assaulted us even before we reached there,” said Kumar in his complaint to the police.
Sources in the department told The Indian Express that a Panipat politician caught Kumar with his shirt collar and another person slapped him.
A senior officer of the Town and Country Planning department claimed that the police had been informed about the demolition drive. “The police force returned from the spot, even before our team reached there. The police team did not inform us that they were leaving the spot. Our team was stopped midway by the mob,” claimed the officer requesting anonymity.
However, Panipat SP Manisha Choudhary said, “The vehicle of Town and Country Planning department was ahead and at a distance from the vehicles of police and duty magistrate. Chandni Bagh SHO had taken the force in a bus from the police station.”
The SP told The Indian Express that the Assistant Town Planner has not named anybody in the FIR. “We are trying to find out about those involved in the incident on the basis of video footage and people who were present there,” she said.
According to District Town Planner (DTP) Lalit Kumar, a lot of illegal constructions has come up on the agriculture land without any CLU (change of land use) in Panipat. Some buildings have also been constructed near roads in violation of the rules. “Few months back, a notice was issued to the owner of a showroom whose construction was to be demolished. But 100-150 persons gathered there to oppose the drive. Our officer did not recognize the assailant immediately but we have come to know about the politician who had caught the officer from his collar,” the DTP said, adding that the illegal buildings were constructed when the officials were busy in the Assembly elections.
Speaking to The Indian Express, former mayor Bhupinder Singh claimed that he was instrumental in protecting the Assistant Town Planner from the mob. “We are associated with the government, why would I assault anybody. But people are angry here. Ever since this DTP (Lalit Kumar) has come to this town, he has demolished buildings including a running factory. What’s the logic behind demolition of the buildings? The buildings have come up with the consent of officials. They take bribe to allow construction of buildings. Later, they take bribe not to demolish these buildings. They have adopted pick and choose policy to demolish the buildings,” said Singh.
He said that the people would meet local MLA Pramod Vij on Saturday to seek the DTP’s transfer from Panipat. “Earlier, the Jind MLA was also upset at this DTP and got him transferred from there. As many as 90 per cent of the buildings are illegal in Panipat. Will you demolish the entire Panipat? We won’t allow demolition of buildings. They should not allow construction of buildings at initial stage,” he added.
Singh further claimed that an MLA had stopped the DTP from demolishing buildings about a week back. “He (DTP) demolished the buildings of poor people.Do these buildings belong to his father? If they demolish the buildings, the situation would turn worse from bad,” said the former mayor.
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