Ranchi, Feb. 2: More than 3,000 protesters, facing displacement due to an anti-encroachment drive in HEC township, today gathered under the aegis of Basti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (BBSM) and vowed to fight till death to stop demolition teams from bulldozing their homes.
The vow was taken in front of the office of the chairman-cum-managing director of HEC at Dhurwa, where they assembled to protest against the anti-encroachment drive, which is scheduled to start from February 4. An advertisement to this effect was published in a local vernacular daily on January 22 and announced through public address system on February 1.
"We will not allow the demolition team in our locality the same way the HEC management did not allow us to enter its campus. Each member of every family residing in the areas demarcated for demolition will come forward to fight and not allow a single brick to be removed from their homes," said Kranti Singh from Patel Nagar, one of the 28 localities in the demolition radar.
Singh was supported by as many as 50 speakers who addressed the gathering in front of the CMD's office. The demonstration began at 11am and continued till 2pm.
"We will have to remain alert till the demolition team is compelled to retreat on Monday. It will be a do or die fight as it is a question of existence of the poor," said Anjani Mohanty, a girl from Gayatri Nagar.
BBSM founder Siddheshwar Singh said after the HEC management sold 2,500 acres in its township for Rs 850 crore to the state government in 2005, the threat of demolition has loomed large over 28 settlements including Latma, Labed, Tiril, Kute, Gayatri Nagar, Lanka Colony, Jagannathpur, Dhobi Ghat, Mausi Bari, Lichi Bagan, J.P. Market, Adarsh Nagar, Patel Nagar, Gandhi Nagar and Sunder Nagar.
"Many attempts have been made by the HEC management to displace people, but so far none have been successful due to mass protests. This time too, the management will be defeated," he said.
As the protest continued, security personnel deployed by HEC remained on their toes to avoid any untoward incident. However, when contacted, officer-in-charge of Dhurwa police station B.N. Singh said he was not worried as the demonstration was peaceful.
In July 2011, there had been mob violence during a similar drive in the HEC township. However, several houses were demolished.
When contacted, senior DGM (PR) of HEC, S.K. Gupta said the eviction drive will continue and notice for the same has already been issued in newspapers.