Lucknow, June 8 : It began as a small confrontation over the installation of a deity’s statue, and then gradually snowballed into a communal clash that acquired political overtones leading to a class clash.
The Kala Kankar Colony in the posh Old Hyderabad locality of Lucknow, has been simmering with rage and the bone of contention are the 121 odd houses, illegally constructed on a ‘nullah’ (drain), right behind the colony.
It has now turned into a hotbed of politics.
Last month, trouble erupted when some people tried to install a statue of Lord Shiva under a tree.
People belonging to a different community protested and a clash erupted.The police were called in and the matter subsided after the removal of the statue.
However, armed personnel of PAC had to be deployed in the colony.
After the incident, residents of the Kala Kankar colony began demanding removal of ‘encroachments’ on the nullah.
“Over the years, these people living on the nullah have become a menace.They deliberately park their vehicles outside our gates and misbehave when asked to remove them.
Boys drink on the roads and pass lewd remarks at the women.We cannot venture out of our houses after sundown,” said Ravi Shankar Gupta, secretary of the Kala Kankar Residents’ Welfare Society.
The matter hit the headlines when about five residents put up ‘for sale’ notices outside their house.
“This colony is no longer safe for us.Most of the residents are senior citizens and cannot deal with the nuisance that is growing by the day.We came to live here because we felt it was a peaceful locality,” said another resident who did not wish to be named.
As residents stepped up their protests and started sending out memorandums to the district officials, the municipal authorities inspected the area and were shocked to find that double storied houses had been constructed over the ‘nullah’.
Some of the houses had even been sold and resold several times in the past 30 years.
The ‘illegal’ residents said that they had even been paying house tax and electricity bills.
Municipal Commissioner Ajay Kumar Dwiwedi said that an inquiry would be conducted into how these illegal occupants were allowed to pay house tax.
“How can we be termed as ‘illegal’ when we are paying house tax and electricity bills? The move to oust is because we are poor and the rich people in the colony do not want us here,” said Sandeep, who lives on the nullah.
He said that more than anything else, it was a class war.
Interestingly, a large number of people living on the nullah, work in the houses of residents of the Kala Kankar Colony.
The municipal authorities have now served notices to all ‘illegal’ occupants, asking them to vacate the place within seven days.
The occupants are now preparing to move court.
The Nagar Nigam, on Monday, demolished a tent store house, built on the nullah.
The Nagar Nigam has also issued a notice and imposed a fine of Rs 13 lakh on the Universal Public School that also encroached upon the drain.
While local councillors belonging to the ruling BJP have remained non-committal on the issue so far, the ‘nullah residents claim their support.
A local BJP leader said, “This is an election year and this is a sensitive issue.We will ask the concerned authorities to tread cautiously.”
Opposition leaders, on the other hand, are demanding that the residents be provided alternative accommodation before they are evicted from here.
The situation, meanwhile, remains volatile and knives are out between the residents of the colony and the alleged encroachers.