Lucknow: With bulldozers running overtime to raze structures built out of illegally earned money in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday gave a clear-cut instruction to officials to not use them to demolish huts and shops of the poor.
“Bulldozers should not be used on the huts and shops of the poor. It should be applied only against illegally earned wealth of criminals and mafias. Action should be taken against people who have forcibly taken away properties of the poor and traders,” Adityanath said in his order to “bulldozerbaaz officials”, according to a statement.
Adityanath has of late earned the nickname “bulldozer baba”, which helped the party create a narrative of tough administration in the state polls.
Such is the fear of bulldozers in UP that over 50 criminals have given themselves up to police in two weeks after the BJP returned to power in the state.
“Bulldozers are giving a message that the criminals and mafias no longer control the system in Uttar Pradesh. It is also building confidence of the poor in the government,” Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal told PTI.
Many known toughies and influential politicians of the state too have faced the wrath of the bulldozer.
A petrol pump that had allegedly been built illegally by Samajwadi Party MLA Shazil Islam Ansari was bulldozed on Thursday, days after the legislator was booked over a provocative remark against Adityanath.
The demolition of the fuel station at Parsakheda on the Bareilly-Delhi National Highway was carried out by the Bareilly Development Authority, an official said.
It was not an isolated case.
The Shamli district administration had on Wednesday freed a land allegedly encroached by Samajwadi Party MLA Nahid Hasan’s uncle Sarvan Hasan in Kairana by razing the structure there.
A joint team of Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA), district administration, and police had on Monday demolished a wall and two sheds alleged to have been constructed without approval on the land of jailed don and former MP Atiq Ahmad’s ancestral house in Chakia locality of the city.
The PDA had razed Atiq’s ancestral house on September 22, 2020.
Visuals of many absconding criminals walking to police stations with placards hanging around their necks with messages like I am surrendering, don’t shoot me, please! surfacing on social media show the panic among history-sheeters.
More than 50 criminals have not only surrendered but have also pledged to shun crime in the past fortnight, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar had told PTI.
Two criminals were killed in encounters and many others have been arrested during the period, he added.
Reports from different parts of the state suggest consistent deployment of bulldozers to clear encroachments and demolition of illegal properties.
In his election speeches, Adityanath used to say the bulldozers have gone for maintenance and will again roll out after March 10 – the day the results were to be declared.
The latest fear of bulldozers among history-sheeters was triggered after a hardcore criminal Gautam Singh, accused of many kidnapping and extortion cases, surrendered at Chhapla Police Station in Gonda district on March 15.
Close on his heels, nearly two dozen criminals lined up at a police station in the Saharanpur district, promising never to commit crimes.
Subsequently, news came of four liquor smugglers surrendering in Deoband, followed by many criminals in Shamli.
A glaring instance came from Pratapgarh last week, where a rape accused surrendered four days after raping a woman in a toilet near a railway station. The accused gave himself up after the police parked a bulldozer in front of his house and threatened to raze it if he didn’t surrender.
The Auraiya district administration on Monday cleared shops built illegally on government land in a market there.
Similarly, on the eve of Holi, the administration demolished shops on an encroached piece of land in the Mainpuri district.
The ADG said there is a clear-cut instruction to show no leniency towards criminals and mafias.
The government exhibited took the same approach on March 6 when an illegal structure built by a close associate of muscleman-politician Mukhtar Ansari was razed in Lucknow.
Last year in the state legislative assembly, Adityanath had promised that houses for the poor will be built on land freed from mafias.