Stones pelted at MC officials during encroachment drive

LudhianaEncroachment Blues: Slum dwellers pelt stones at MC team in Ludhiana on Saturday. Gurmeet Singh

Welcomed with stones and bricks, a team of 40 officials of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation return without demolishing a single encroachment in Sem Nullah, Haibowal on Saturday. The stone pelting also injured ASI Sukhminder Singh and Randhir Singh, a sewadar of Ludhiana MC. Sukhminder Singh suffered serious head injures.

While others including Assistant town planners, superintendents, ATP headquarter Kamaljeet Kaur with 50 police officers ran to the spot, the slum dwellers vandalised two JCB machines. The gypsy in which ATP Kamaljit Kaur was travelling was overturned with all its glasses and lights were damaged. ATP Kaur was not inside the van and was safe. Rajinder Sharma, ATP Zone D said, "We were there to remove around 100 encroachments. We were inspecting the site when the stone pelting started. We had to return and the drive was cancelled."

"They kept vandalising our vehicles and throwing bricks at us. We informed additional commissioner Isha Kalia who asked us to come back," said Rajeev Bhardwaj, superintendent MC.

Lack of planning<\b>

Meanwhile, a superintendent from MC team on condition of anonymity said that first the team was called at Talaab Bazaar (an area with religious encroachments). Later, the plan was changed to Haibowal. "In the confusion half of the police force reached Talaab bazaar and rest at Haibowal. Situation whould have been under control if we had the full force with us," Bhardwaj said.

inadequate police force: Kalia<\b>

After the attack, IAS Isha Kalia, held a meeting with all Assistant town planners at Guru Nanak Bhawan. Punjab and Haryana High Court recently rapped Ludhiana MC for not removing more than 4,000 encroachments listed with HC since 2008. Kalia said, "We asked for at least 300 policemen and we were allotted only 50 cops. MC is answerable to the HC but encroachments cannot be removed if there is no coordination." She added, regular encroachments have been removed, only sensitive encroachments are left which we cannot do without adequate police force. "There was no commanding officer to guide the force. It is the duty of police commissionerate to allot ACP rank officer. Our ATPs were gutsy that they went for drive without adequate force. We will be lodging an FIR soon and the issue will be raised with the police commissioner," she said. SHO Amarjit Singh from Haibowal police station said that no FIR was registered till filing of this report. Sources confirmed that due to a religious procession the drive was shifted from Talaab Bazaar in the last moment.

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