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To placate demolition protesters,HUDA official beats self with shoe

To diffuse mounting tension among the residents during an anti-encroachment drive in Gurgaon,a senior government official chose to beat himself with his shoe on Sunday night.

Written by TUHIN DUTTA | Gurgaon |
November 22, 2011 2:12:14 am

To diffuse mounting tension among the residents during an anti-encroachment drive in Gurgaon,a senior government official chose to beat himself with his shoe on Sunday night. This,as hundreds of residents surrounded him and the police personnel who were in Sikandarpur to demolish unauthorised structures on the roadside.

Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) administrator Praveen Kumar was transferred a few day ago to Gurgaon from Faridabad,where he was the deputy commissioner.

According to witnesses,the residents were protesting against the demolition drive and the negotiations stretched over three hours. Sensing that the situation could turn violent,Kumar took his shoe and started to hit himself on the head with it.

“It was a very conscious decision. The situation could have turned violent any moment. I was hurt by their comments on corrupt officials,” Praveen Kumar later told Newsline.

Kumar’s action,however,did have an effect on the crowd as the protesters calmed down and allowed the drive to resume.

“My intention was to show the people that either I was a madman beating myself up with my own shoes,or I was an honest official who was just doing my job. This had an effect on people and they calmed down,” said Kumar.

An eyewitnesses said Kumar’s actions might have been triggered by a comment from the crowd that “officials are all corrupt and they should be beaten up with shoes”.

Residents,meanwhile,alleged that they were not handed any notice prior to the drive.

“Neither were we shown any documents,nor given time to clear our things. Some of the valuables are still under the debris and some have been confiscated,” said Mir Singh,an advocate.

Kumar said the width of the road needs to be increased to 60 metres,but encroachments were obstructing the work. Therefore,he said,the drive was planned.

According to a HUDA official,the drive was meant to clear encroachment between city court area and Bristol Chowk.

“The construction of the Rapid Metro,coupled with encroachments,has made the road narrow,affecting traffic movement,” the official said.

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