Unrest in Faridabad over demolition drive

FARIDABAD: Sporadic clashes between police and protesters following an anti-encroachment drive hit life in several pockets of the city on Monday and threw traffic on the busy Delhi-Agra highway out of gear for a few hours. At least half a dozen people were reported injured in the stone pelting and the resultant police lathi-charge, but the administration refused to put a figure to the number of injured.

The protests erupted after the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad tried to remove more than 100 illegal shops and encroachments in NIT towns 1 and 5 of Faridabad following a Punjab and Haryana High Court order to remove them by September 20. The Delhi-Agra highway also bore the brunt of the protests as a three-hour road block from 12 noon paralysed the busy Neelam Chowk.

Senior officials said there were sporadic clashes between police and locals all through the day. The rioters reportedly tried to damage government vehicles and even pelted stones on buses.

Police said the drive to clear the area began around 6am near the Bata Flyover. Faced with stiff resistance from the encroachers, the joint team of police and corporation officials beat a hasty retreat to NIT Market 1. “We had almost finished demolishing the frontal portions of the illegal structures over a 1km stretch when the mob tried to encircle us. However, we managed to break out and reach NIT Market 5 around 9.45am,” said an officer.

Sources said locals, supported by hundreds of traders, then attacked policemen and damaged the vehicle of the NIT SHO. “Police lathi-charged us without much provocation. They entered several houses, pulled out people and beat them up,” said a witness, alleging the stone-pelting started after the police lathi-charge.

Although the morning mob dispersed, it converged around 12 noon and blocked Neelam Chowk, demanding an explanation for the lathi-charge and action against officers responsible for the order. Traffic on the highway had to be diverted due to the jam at the Chowk.

The crowd was pacified after senior police and corporation officers promised quick action on its demands. Till reports last came in, no case had been registered.

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