A day after Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said that his government will punish those involved in the Khargone riots on 10 April, Haseena’s house in Khargone's Khaskhaswadi, built under PM Aawas Yojana (PMAY) was demolished by the district administration.
Hers was one of the 16 houses razed down on 11 April.
Following the public backlash on the demolition drive, District Collector Anugraha P, while talking to The Quint, said, “The house constructed under the PMAY benefit was being used to keep cattle. The family was actually residing another place that is their house, the land for which was allotted by PMAY."
Haseena’s family, however, is currently residing along with nearly 20 other people in a tin-roofed structure, lent as a gesture by her forty-seven-year-old neighbour Akram Pathan.
Akram Pathan built the tin-roofed extension on the land his father, Mustakim Mehrab Pathan, bought in 2008. Speaking to The Quint, Akram said that the government was "trying to save their face after they wrongfully made families homeless".
“This is my land. It is in the name of my father and he bought it from the Asgar Ali Najmuddin for Rs 5,55,555. My father bought two plots, one where I live, and the other one beside it where we have built a tin-roofed structure. Initially, we had given the space to run a Madrassa and off late, we have been using it to keep our cattle and store ‘bhusa’ (fodder) and other things,” Akram Pathan
'Is This Shivraj Mama's Justice?'
Speaking to The Quint, Haseena’s son Amjad Pathan said, “They first gave us the money to build a home and then they demolished it. We are not educated enough to know the law, but we know that we have been living here for the past 40 years. When the government gave us money to build the house how can they break it down? Is this Shivraj Mama’s justice?”
Looking at the ground filled with debris of house and shops from a tin-roofed establishment, Amjad Pathan says that 'Mama' run a bulldozer – 'not on a house but on a home'.
How Did Amjad’s Family Receive Benefits Under PMAY?
Amjad told The Quint that the PMAY house was sanctioned on the basis of their land tax receipts.
“In the first round, PM Aawas Yojana houses were allotted to those who had ownership of land. In the second round, it was given to those who had a patta. After this, they announced that anyone having a land tax receipt will be given the money to build a house. So we enlisted ourselves and after that, we were given money by which we built our home. It was not a house for us, it was a home,” said Amjad.
After PMAY Funds.
(Photo Courtesy: Special Arrangement)
Before PMAY funds.
(Photo Courtesy: Special Arrangement)
His mother Haseena received the money under the PMAY scheme in three instalments – first on 28 October 2020, second on 31 March 2021, and the third on 4 April 2022, a week before the Khargone district administration demolished his house.
Amjad’s father Fakruddin had written to the district collector in October 2017 seeking ‘patta’ for the place where they have been residing for the last forty years. However, they received no response from the administration.
Evacuation Notices Sent Months After Family Received Two Instalments of PMAY Scheme
In September 2021, six months after Haseena received the second instalment under the PMAY scheme, the district authorities sent a show-cause notice.
The Quint has access copy of the same, and noted that the government sought answers from Amjad's family over alleged illegal encroachment of government land. Failing to receive an answer, the government said, that the family will receive an an evacuation order.
Amjad’s family, in a written response said, “The house, which is being said to have been built on encroached land, was, in fact, built by a widow called Haseena, with the benefits under the PMAY scheme for her family… if the authority wishes they can investigate it and we request you to deliver fair justice.”
A few days later Khargone Municipal Council’s office ordered them to provide land ownership documents for the same or self evacuate the place in 15 days and inform the office. The letter further said that failing to comply with the orders, the Municipal council will evacuate the land as per the law.
The Tehsildar court on 10 March 2022 found that they have encroached on the land and made a kaccha house over it.
It ordered Amjad’s family to evacuate the place at the soonest else the court with the help of police and the municipal council will remove the encroachment.
Nearly a month later on 7 April, Amjad’s family was served with another notice by the Tehsildar court asking them to evacuate the place within three days of receiving the order and notify them in writing.
However, just three days earlier, on 4 April, Amjad received a text on his cellphone informing him about the credit of the third and final instalment under the PMAY scheme.
Haseena recalled the happiness when they got the congratulatory letter from Shivraj said, “We didn’t know that our dream house, which we could have never been able to build on our own would be turned into a pile of stone. When I received the congratulatory letter from ‘CM Shivraj Mama’ for my house I had tears of joy in my eyes and within a few days the same Mama turned them into tears of agony."
Demolition Without a Chance to Appeal Says Amjad’s Family
District Collector Anugraha P had earlier said that all demolition was ‘within the legal purview’.
“We are razing down houses and shops where encroachment of the government land was done and everything is within the legal purview,” said Anugraha.
When asked whether Amjad and other families were given a chance to appeal, the collector said, “They were informed of the illegal encroachment on the land long before their houses were razed down. The tehsildar court investigated and found that it was indeed a case of the government’s land being encroached and so the house was demolished and the land was freed.”
However, Amjad claims that he wasn’t even given a chance to appeal and his life was destroyed just to please the higher authorities.
“They have given us notice, we are not denying that, but they have also given us the money to construct the house. I had prepared a response to their notice on Saturday, 9 April, and was going to submit it on Monday but the clashes happened on Sunday and then a curfew was imposed. When would I have gone and submitted my response? Why wasn’t I given a chance to appeal? Do I not have rights?” questioned a teary-eyed Amjad.