15 injured, 4 vehicles damaged in clash at Ghaziabad Haj House
Fifteen persons, including two police personnel, were injured and four vehicles damaged in a clash on Monday night when police tried to arrest Congress leaders staging a sit-down strike at the Haj House here to press for Haj pilgrims to be allowed to stay at the incomplete structure.
As the local administration tried to get the Haj House ground evacuated, the agitators damaged three vehicles of commuters on GT Road and a police jeep. The commuters had to suffer for several hours due to the traffic jam.
The Congress leaders were demanding that Haj pilgrims coming from Uttarakhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh be allowed to stay in the Haj House. But the district administration contended that it was not the custodian of the building.
Additional District Magistrate-City (ADM-City) Preety Jaiswal said: "It is the Haj Committee at Lucknow which controls and maintains the building. They were knocking at the wrong door."
The building was inaugurated on July 6, 2016 by then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, even though much work had to be completed. It is yet to have a sewage treatment plant, and clearances from the fire department, pollution control board, underground water authority and some other government departments.
In the meantime, some green activists have also filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), alleging that the building is constructed on the river bed.
"The information about inauguration reached us late. If it had reached us on time, inauguration would have been cancelled. But the protestors are not understanding it. How can the district administration allow pilgrims to stay in an incomplete building," the ADM-City wondered.
But ignoring the ground reality, Congress leaders Naseem Khan and Puja Chaddha, accompanied by around 50 supporters, staged a sit-down strike on Monday afternoon. Initially, the administration ignored their protest considering it to be no threat to law and order -- but towards the evening, people started flocking to the site in large numbers.
Finally, the district administration had to announce that prohibitory orders, imposed during the Kanwar festival, were still in force.
At about 10.00 p.m, ADM-City Jaiswal and Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Anoop Singh visited the site and asked the protestors to end their agitation. But when the protestors refused to oblige, the ground had to be forcibly evacuated.
"Three persons -- Naseem Khan, Sameer Khan and Puja Chaddha -- have been arrested. The FIR also names 11 other persons and 200 unnamed persons who participated in the protest. The PAC and civil police have been deployed at the site and the situation is under control," said ASP Singh.