Shanties Burnt, Cars Damaged in Meerut Anti-Encroachment Drive
At least one person has been arrested and 17 others have been identified based on videos of the incident.
Over 150 shanties were burnt down and several vehicles damaged by mobs after local authorities tried to remove encroachments in the Meerut’s Sadar Bazar area on Wednesday, 6 March.
The police said their men were also fired at from the rooftops, reported PTI.
Over two dozen cars and two-wheelers, and eight or nine buses were damaged in the violence, triggered by the Cantonment Board and the police’s attempt to remove encroachments in Bhusa Mandi in the Uttar Pradesh city.
At least one person has been arrested and 17 others have been identified based on videos of the incident. Four people were initially taken in for questioning.
The police said the situation was later brought under control.
A magisterial inquiry has been ordered, District Magistrate Anil Dhingra told PTI. He said the situation was "tense but under control".
Asked about what caused the incident, he had said it would be clear after the inquiry.
The trouble began when Meerut Cantonment Board members accompanied by a police team reached Bhusa Mandi under the Sadar Bazar police station area to remove illegal encroachments from the market, said officials.
Agitated over the civic authorities’ actions, the miscreants resorted to stone-pelting at officials, and snatched a wireless set from a policeman and a mobile phone from one of the Cantonment Board members.
It led police to baton the agitated crowd and take people in for questioning.
Reacting to this, anti-social elements in the agitating crowd set a few nearby shanties on fire, which spread rapidly, engulfing and gutting over 150 of them.
The agitating crowd too swelled rapidly, spilling onto the streets right from the Bhusa Mandi to Mahtab theatre and further up to Delhi Road, where the mob disrupted traffic and damaged over two dozen private cars and bikes, and eight or nine Uttar Pradesh roadways buses, the officials cited by PTI said.
The miscreants even resorted to firing upon the police team from their rooftops, said officials, adding, however, that there were no casualties due to the firing.
As a precautionary measure, the police had diverted traffic on Delhi Road and blocked all roads leading to Mahtab theatre to control the situation.
Bus driver Sunil Kumar of Meerut’s Bhaisali depot told PTI that his bus was attacked by a mob of over 100 people, who seriously injured nearly 30 passengers, including a woman and her child.
Kumar said during the attack, he kept on calling the police but failed to get any response, while the mob had a free run and indulged in rioting and looting passengers of several buses.
Eyewitnesses said amid the reports of arson, Golcha cinema located near the Bhusa Mandi cancelled its show midway and a stampede-like situation erupted, with the movie-goers rushing out of the cinema hall amid reports of fire.
According to reports, broken pieces of some bottles too were found at the troubled spots, giving rise to speculation that the miscreants used patrol bombs during the melee.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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