Banda. As most of the nation’s eyeballs and hearts were fixed on Bhaijaan’s (non)culpability this week, a million miles away in Banda, angry residents presented a petition on the 5th of May to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. The subject was an inquiry into the matter of 25 households and shops being razed to the ground on the night of 29th April in Banda town, in full presence of the local police. The reason given – the Chief Minister’s cavalcade was to pass through the area the next day.
‘They came at midnight and bulldozed our houses and shops. No one had been warned. We had to rush out of our houses. We barely made it out with our children before the bulldozer brought our house down,’ says 55-year old Urmila, a resident of Banda for over three decades. Urmila said that she had moved here when the land was unoccupied, and even her daughters had been married from the same house. No authority had ever asked them to move from the area before this.
The houses were located along the road where Akhilesh Yadav’s cavalcade was to pass, opposite the District Hospital and the DIG’s residence. Earlier in the week, the District Magistrate had asked the residents to clear out the area outside the kachcha houses. ‘We removed everything when the D.M. asked us to. He never asked us to vacate the area. Had we known that they were going to take such extreme action, obviously we would have tried to make some arrangement,’ said Ramkhilawan, who ran a small tea shop that was brought down that night.
Shiroman, Shivbhawan, Ballu and Vichitra Veer were some of the other residents who have borne the brunt of this callous action. In the application, residents alleged that the Station Officer Ram Asrey of the local Police Post led the mission. S.O. Ram Asrey said, ‘We did what we were ordered to do.’ When asked to produce a copy of the written order, he was unable to do so.
In response to the incident, Congress District President Akhilesh Kumar Shukla was quick to promise that the party would take up the issue on behalf of the affected residents. ‘We will approach the D.M. and S.D.M. to demand compensation or replacement of the property they’ve lost,’ he said.