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Bengaluru Demolition Drive: PWD Engineer Who Razed 'Illegal' Shanties Relieved of Civic Body Duty

File photo of the Kariyammana Agrahara area where the shanties were demolished. (Image: Fahad Khalid)

File photo of the Kariyammana Agrahara area where the shanties were demolished. (Image: Fahad Khalid)

The demolition drive had taken place days after BJP MLA Aravind Limbavalli tweeted that he had instructed authorities concerned to take action against "illegal activities" in the "illegally constructed sheds", some of which housed "illegal immigrants of Bangladesh".

Bengaluru: Two days after about a hundred sheds were demolished at Kariyammana Agrahara near Bellandur in Bengaluru, the assistant executive engineer who had issued the order has been relieved of his duties from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP).

Narayan Swamy, who was on deputation in BBMP, has been sent back to his parent department — Public Works Department. The BBMP has also written to PWD to initiate departmental action against Swamy for razing the shanties.

"We have repatriated him to PWD. Suspension order will follow. He is being sent back to his parent department. The circular (letter to police on demolition) was issued without anybody’s knowledge," BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar told News18.

"He has acted on his own. Don't know if he had taken anybody's instructions on this. I am speaking to the PWD secretary on suspension. The joint commissioner is investigating the case," said Kumar.

The demolition drive had taken place days after BJP MLA Aravind Limbavalli tweeted that he had instructed authorities concerned to take action against "illegal activities" in the "illegally constructed sheds", some of which housed "illegal immigrants of Bangladesh". Limbavali's tweet from January 12 was based on videos doing rounds on social media.

On January 18, Swamy wrote to the Marathahalli Police under whose limits the area falls and sought police presence at the site during demolition of "illegal sheds which had housed illegal immigrants and turned into a slum with deteriorating condition". According to the letter, the action came based on oral complaints.

On January 11, police had issued a notice to the owner of the land saying the land had illegal sheds and had housed illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and hence, the place must be cleared and information on any such immigrant be shared with police.

However, the residents of the sheds turned out to be Indians from the north Karnataka and the northeast and all of them have their documents, including Aadhaar, PAN and voter id cards. Those who are originally from Assam also have their names in the National Register of Citizens. The residents said they were not even allowed to show their documents.

The chief engineer on Monday summoned Swamy and found that there was lapse on the latter’s part.

The drive has resulted in hundreds becoming homeless. Several volunteers have got together to collate the data of the residents and move court, while a PIL has been filed in the Karnataka High Court against the action that will be heard on Wednesday.

Regarding paying compensation to the victims, Special Commissioner (East) Randeep Dev said they are awaiting the report from the joint commissioner. "We have to find out the extent of demolition, who carried it out and who should be penalised," he said.

"If it's private land, we didn't have any role to play unless cleanliness or health issue was there. Even if there was something illegal on the private land, the right way was to issue a notice to the owner. If they hadn't followed it then there's the next procedure. Here, it seems like the drive was carried out on the basis of a one-off letter and without having taken appropriate approval," he added.