For the last two-and-half months, the district horticulture department building — situated inside the Jawahar Bagh grounds in Mathura — had been under the illegal possession of the ‘satyagrahis’ of Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena.
Since they took over Jawahar Bagh two-and-a-half years ago, the ‘satyagrahis’ had stopped work at the building, leading to the state government incurring a loss of over Rs 1 crore during this period.
By regularly thrashing them, ransacking office rooms and burning files, they finally managed to force the department employees to vacate the building in March. Soon after, the horticulture office was shifted to a small building of the department at Chanmari — around 3 km from Jawahar Bagh.
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“For the two-and-a-half years, the officials were not allowed to execute tenders to sell fruits and plants. Contractors and farmers were also threatened to stay away from Jawahar Bagh and the horticulture department,” said Mathura District Horticulture Officer Mukesh Kumar.
“We have been writing to the headquarters in Lucknow and also to the Mathura district magistrate and SSP, but we got no help… As we were facing trouble in running the office on Jawahar Bagh premises, it was shifted to another building at Chanmari, where one of our units is located,” he added.
“Illegal occupants led by Ram Vriksh Yadav used to assault our employees and also those who visited our office. They used to ransack office rooms and burn files. They forcibly used the power supply of the building. They wanted the staff to vacate the residential complex inside Jawahar Bagh,” said Kumar.
He further said: “At Jawahar Bagh, we used to grow fruits and plants. While we auctioned the fruits, we sold the plants. The illegal occupants damaged the plants and did not allow any contractor to purchase the fruits. They also cut hundreds of trees for fuel for cooking. In the last two months, we have failed to deposit any money in the exchequer. Overall, we have causes a loss of over Rs 1 crore to the government.”
The department had written to the Mathura SSP in March, 2015 about the matter. A copy was also sent to the Agra commissioner and Mathura DM. In the letter, it had said that over 2,000 trees have been burnt. Another letter was sent to the DM in April, 2015, which referred to the unauthorised activities taking place inside the park.
The department also got 12 FIRs lodged against the illegal occupants at the Sadar police station. “The police did not take any action. Since March 15, 2014, our work is suffering…,” the horticulture officer said.