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Sarai Alawardi tense after 5 houses are brought down near mosque,10 held

The Gurgaon district administration, following orders from Punjab and Haryana High Court, demolished five houses in Sarai Alawardi village, near New Palam Vihar on Tuesday afternoon. These encroachments were allegedly built illegally around the 400-year-old Sarai Alawardi mosque, which is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

However, the locals panicked after a row of houses were razed and started pelting stones at the police alleging that the administration had promised to bring down only one such structure near the mosque. The situation was brought under control by more than 250 policemen from across Haryana, including Karnal and Hisar who were deployed and equipped with riot control equipment, fire tenders and water cannon trucks. The scuffle that broke out between the police authorities and villagers led to the arrest of 10 villagers, including seven women. An FIR was registered against these villagers under Sections 147, 148, 149, 332, 353, 186, 188, 427, 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

The demolition started around 12 noon after the high court rejected an appeal made by villagers to order a stay on this exercise. The drive was carried out using two earth-movers and over 40 workers of Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon under supervision of district administration officials.

The village is spread over three acres of land with the mosque in the middle and has over 300 families residing there. On August 14, they were served a notice to vacate their houses within seven days, to which the villagers did not comply. 

The villagers claim that they are not living in an illegal colony. The issue dates back to 1984-85 when the land, inhabited by the evacuated residents, was provided by the Punjab Wakf Board. 

A lease of 99 years had been rewarded by the Board but the district administration said that the land was already transferred to the ASI back in 2003. 

However, according to the administration, the lease villagers got from the Punjab Wakf Board is not valid anymore. “Several of us have been living here for over 30-40 years. We are not encroachers. The government is being insensitive by not providing any alternative arrangements or compensation to families being displaced. We were not told of the lease expiring and the property being handed over to the ASI for renovation of the mosque until 2013,” said a villager. 

Deputy Commissioner, T L Satyaprakash said: “The administration is only following orders from the Punjab and Haryana high court. The area has a mosque, which comes under the ASI’s purview and required actions are being taken to protect it. We informed all the residents that as per directives they have to vacate the land under all circumstances and even gave them time to shift their belongings. All homes were resurveyed and marked and their belongings were taken out before the houses were demolished.”
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