Demolition drive: Traders blame ‘high-handed’ Azamhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/demolition-drive-traders-blame-highhanded-azam/

Demolition drive: Traders blame ‘high-handed’ Azam

On Sunday,traders held a protest outside the residence of District Magistrate Shubhra Saxena,who cancelled her leave,met the traders and pacified them with the assurance of alternate shops.

Blaming it on the “high-handedness” of Urban Development Minister Azam Khan,the traders in Rampur district are up in arms against demolition of 22 shops in Shaukat Ali market by the local Nagarpalika on Saturday. The market was constructed in 1994 when Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister.

On Sunday,traders held a protest outside the residence of District Magistrate Shubhra Saxena,who cancelled her leave,met the traders and pacified them with the assurance of alternate shops.

The market also housed two arms and ammunition shops owned by Ravindra Ravi,the district president of BSP,and another by former minister Surender Sagar,also of the BSP.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Swami Prasad Maurya,leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Naseemuddin Siddiqui,Rajya Sabha MP Munqad Ali and several other BSP leaders visited Rampur on Sunday. They termed it as dictatorship of Azam Khan and pledged their support to the traders.

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The traders,who observed a strike on Sunday,have decided to take out a protest march on May 20. “We are getting support from people belonging to all walks of life — doctors,lawyers,schools — and it will be a historic march,” said Shahid Shamsi,secretary of the local Vyapar Mandal.

Shaukat Ali market was constructed by the Nagarpalika and allotted to the shopkeepers in 1994 on rent. Some time ago,they were told that the market is illegal.

“We did not do anything illegal. The market was an encroachment and was demolished,” said Azhar Ahmed Khan,chairman of the Nagarpalika,who belongs to the Samajwadi Party.

Over Azam Khan’s alleged role in the demolition,he stated,“There may not be a direct role but Azam Khan had announced categorically during election meetings that all illegal buildings will be razed to ground. We are doing it and many more markets will be razed.”

Asked about the ownership of the shops,the chairman said,“What is the point even if they were constructed and allotted by Nagarpalika? It was an illegal decision and we are rectifying it.”

The demolitions took place on Saturday night,amidst protests by shopkeepers and their families. Heavy police force and PAC was deployed and four bulldozers pressed into service. Since Ravindra Ravi and Surender Sagar refused to vacate their arms and ammunition shops,the district administration took the weapons and ammunition in its custody and demolished their shops.

“The situation in Rampur city is very tense. In the name of removing encroachments,old shops are being demolished. It is a blatant misuse of power by cabinet minister Azam Khan. People are turning jobless and their anger can erupt any time,” Sagar said.

DM Shubhra Saxena also said the marker was illegal. “It was owned by the Nagarpalika and they had been trying to demolish it since 2006. It is their prerogative and the demolition was not wrong. But on humanitarian ground,we are trying hard to locate alternative space and construct shops for the affected people,” she said.