Abdul Hafiz Lakhani
AHMEDABAD – Gujarat’s largest Muslim neighborhood Juhapura in Ahmedabad is once again in news for all the wrong reasons. The nexus between Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, ruling BJP in AMC and builders of the area have rendered thousands of Muslims homeless. Windows of several vehicles were broken by a group of angry locals in Juhapura today following the demolition drive.
Generally, any demolition drive against illegal construction attracts some protest by local people. When Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation team decided to go on demolition drive in sensitive Juhapura area it was expecting some protest. A huge police force was therefore called in advance. Ahmedabad Rural Superintendent of Police himself was present during the demolition drive.
The AMC officials said they had completed all legal procedure before starting the demolition. They said demolition of five-storied residential cum commercial buildings that started Monday will take some time to complete.
Locals protesting the drive broke down glasses of 108 ambulance van, police jeep, AMTS bus and also tried to torch AMC machinery. Traffic on Fatehwadi road which connects Juhapura to Sarkhej was diverted for some time due to these incidents.
The illegal multistoried constructions demolished in Fatehwadi-Juhapura by AMC are not hutments and encroachments on government land, but apartments offered on sale by builders to unsuspecting purchasers. Now, thousands of people are living on ground near their lost homes. On Saturday, local BJP MLA Kishore Chaudhary had gone on record blaming two particular AMC officials and local builders for the scam.
On Sunday, Cong MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh stepped into the fray. Sheikh said, referring to the displaced people, “They are the victims of scam by builders and AMC officers.” He added, “Many people who have lost the homes have paid up to Rs3 lakh for small apartments. Only the builders and concerned AMC officers were aware of the scam”. “I am going to meet CM to discuss the issue. Why should innocent people be hurt?” asked Sheikh.
Local councilor, Haji Asarbeg Mirza, said, “Many students facing exams have lost their books, school uniforms, and materials in AMC’s demolition.”
Devang Desai, deputy municipal commissioner, New West Zone, said the AMC would resume the demolition drive in another day or two. Desai said, “We were about to continue on Sunday too, but we didn’t have enough police to protect our staff.” Meanwhile, a group of Muslim councilors from the Congress party, besides a few city Congress leaders and MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh, sat on dharna outside the municipal commissioner’s bungalow protesting the demolition in Juhapura.
Talking to the media, a councilor said, “Where was the municipal corporation when all the buildings were being constructed?” They wanted to know if all illegal constructions in Ahmedabad will be demolished or only those in the Muslim areas, where the civic agency has failed or ignored to reach even basic civic amenities as against other areas.
The Fatehpura area where the incidents took place is one underbelly in Juhapura which lacks most basic municipal amenities.