Ghaziabad: RLD chief Ajit Singh's supporters on Thursday clashed with police over the move to evict him from government residence in Delhi even as the Centre rejected his demand that the house be converted into a memorial to his father, former prime minister Charan Singh.
With an eye on Jat votes in the upcoming Haryana elections, Congress also demanded that the 12 Tughlaq Road be declared a national memorial to the Jat leader. JD(U) too lent its support to it.
Over 30 persons were injured as police fired rubber bullets, lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse activists of Bhartiya Kisan Union and Rashtriya Lok Dal who turned violent as police thwarted their attempt to cut-off water supply to Delhi from Gangnahar Muradnagar regulator in the UP district bordering the national capital.
"They (supporters) had given a call to cut water supply to Delhi and for that 10,000 supporters of BKU and RLD had assembled at the regulator at Muradnagar. It was a volatile situation because the crowd had come with stones and bottles," Alok Sharma, IG, Meerut said.
District Magistrate Vimal Kumar Sharma said that police were provoked by the stone pelting mob. Twenty-two policeman were injured in the clash, he said.
Among the injured were ten protesters, the IG said, adding people had assembled from Saharnpur, Moradabad, Agra, and Meerut range following a call by Rashtriya Lok Dal.
RLD claimed that three party MLAs Sudesh Sharma (Modi Nagar), Bhagwati Prashad (Aligarh, Khair) and Dalbeer Singh (Aligarh) along with many other party leaders were injured in the police action.
Last week, power and water supplies to official residences of former Union minister Ajit Singh and other ex-MPs were disconnected by the government as they were not eligible for the facility and were overstaying despite being slapped with eviction notice.
Singh today said he would vacate his government bungalow by next week but supported the agitation saying people want the house to be converted into a memorial for Charan Singh as he stayed there for 36 years.
He said that when there can be memorials for leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Kanshi Ram, there can be one for his father.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and JD(U) general secretary KC Tyagi wrote to Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, making the demand while the Bhartiya Kisan Union threatened to launch a stir and disrupt water supply to Delhi from Gangnahar Muradnagar regulator.
But the government dismissed the demand. The bungalow cannot be converted into a memorial as the Union Cabinet in 2000 banned conversion of government bungalows into memorials in the name of departed leaders, said a senior Urban Development Ministry official in Delhi.
"Later Supreme Court in a judgement in the Karnataka Road Transport Corporation related case in July 2013, has suggested to the government not to allow conversion of any bungalows into memorials," the official said.
Strongly refuting allegations on the government move, Naidu replied to Hooda that it was "neither an unceremonious nor a discourteous act as due procedure and time limits have been observed".
Taking on NDA government, RLD leader told a news agency, "After BJP lost power in 2004, several of its leaders continued to occupy bungalows meant for ministers. When I have already informed them that I would leave by September 24, what was the need to cut power and water supply? I had written to the government seeking four months time to vacate the house. But there has been no response."
On the protests against the eviction orders, Ajit Singh said, "The government should be sensitive to their demand. It should open a dialogue with them. They see it as Charan Singh's house."
Meanwhile, Naidu has stated that all the procedures were followed in serving eviction notices on the former UPA Ministers who refused to vacate government bungalows.
As far as Ajit Singh is concerned, he was was initially allowed one-month time to vacate and later the time was extended and finally it was only after 80 days of unauthorised staying, supply of power and water was cut off by the NDMC.
"It is clear that Singh has been given ample opportunities and time to vacate the said bungalow. I, therefore, beg to differ with you that this was neither an unceremonious nor a discourteous act as due procedure and time limits have been observed," Naidu has said in his letter to Hooda.
Naidu said the Union Minister who has been allotted the bungalow has been staying in a guest house causing much hardship to him and his family members besides adversely impacting his official work.
Members of Jat Arakshan Samiti and Choudhary Charan Singh Vichar Manch were among those who staged protest today.
Police and provincial armed constabulary personnel had barricaded the area in the wake of threat by agitators to cut off water supply.
Protesters started gathering at Manota village and started marching towards Muradnagar Water Regulator.
Senior Superintendent of Police Dharmendra Yadav led the police contingent which stopped the protesters from entering the cordoned area.
The enraged protesters then tried to break the cordon and indulged in violence.
The water supply to Delhi was stopped by the protesters for two hours, an RLD leader claimed but officials denied it.