Tension gripped Gyaspura area of Ludhiana Thursday after a drive by the municipal corporation to remove ‘illegal occupants’ from flats turned violent. The flats were built under Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) for the rehabilitation of slum-dwellers under Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewal Urban Mission (JNNURM). A week back, MC had served notices to around 240 families claiming they were living in flats without legal allotment and should vacate flats immediately. Of the 240 families, around 150 refused to vacate claiming they were promised by MC officials that they would be allotted flats legally.
On Thursday, MC team by executive engineer (XEN) Karamjit Singh reached the site to get the flats vacated. As mob started assembling and one of the protesters climbed a pole near a power transformer and threatened to commit suicide. He was identified as Sunny (20). As people present were persuading him to come down, he suddenly lost balance and fell on the high tension wires underneath and got electrocuted. Soon after the incident, the protest turned violent. Even as a large police contingent was called in, people started pelting stones and attacked MC team with sticks and other objects. XEN Karamjit Singh sustained multiple injuries on his legs, arms, head and face. His vehicle was also vandalized by the mob. He was eventually rescued by the police.
Sunny was admitted at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) and his condition is stated to be critical. Inspector Pavittar Singh, SHO Daba police station, said an FIR had been filed against 100-150 unidentified protesters for attacking MC team. The SHO said it was unclear why Sunny started protesting and climbed the pole. “The MC team had not initiated any action in the block where his flat is located. Probably, he just joined other protesters,” said the SHO.
Meanwhile, protesters claimed they were shifted from slums to these flats by MC officials only and were promised allotment letters. Bhopal Singh, one of the protesters, said, “We were dropped here in MC vehicles when slums were vacated in SBS Nagar. We had agreed to leave our slums only on the condition that we get legal accommodation. It is not our fault if MC officials kept delaying the allotment.”