CIDCO’s demolition drive on Tuesday to evict squatters from its plot in Sector 5, Koparkhairne was met with resistance, leading to a major law and order situation. The drive turned violent after agitated slumdwellers pelted police personnel with stones.
Seven police personnel were injured and the equipment brought in for demolition was damaged.
“The land situated adjacent to Koparkhairne railway station is to be sold. Notices were served to the occupants directing them to vacate. The plot was to be cleared and fenced. After bulldozers entered the area to demolish the settlements, the squatters retaliated by pelting stones. The escalation led to chaos necessitating the intervention of police personnel,” said CIDCO chief public relation officer Mohan Ninave. “The squatters did not allow motorists to pass and began to block the path of pedestrians in a bid to intimidate them. The area saw traffic snarls due to the slumdwellers’ agitation,” said a policeman. Senior police inspectors Shivaji Awate and Sunil Gawali along with 5 other policemen were injured and admitted to a local hospital for treatment. Awate’s condition is said to be serious.
The stand-off lasted for nearly one hour. “Initially, police personnel appealed to the squatters to vacate the land, terming the occupation illegal. They later forcibly entered the premises and demolished the encroachments,” said a source. Fourteen people were arrested for attempt to murder, attacking government officials on duty, rioting and unlawful assembly.
“Action was taken against the miscreants for preventing government officials from doing their duty and pelting stones with the intention of causing harm. We had to call a riot control unit,” said DCP Sudhakar Pathare.