Shopkeepers allege they were not given time to vacate their premises

In an early morning operation on Saturday, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), with heavy police protection, demolished 23 shops abutting the Roshan Mosque and Dargah Hazrat Sadiq Ali Shah Hussaini on Mysore Road here to make way for road-widening.

While the BBMP officials claimed the shops had encroached upon the already narrow stretch of Mysore Road, the traders said they were shocked by the action.

Iman Khan (55), whose tea stall abutting the mosque has been razed, told The Hindu he and his father had been running it for the past 52 years.

“The BBMP did not give us any notice. The least they could have done was given us time to vacate. Where are we supposed to go now?” he said.

Syed Abdul Matheen (75) had a furniture shop here for the past 25 years. With his shop gone, he said he would have to sell whatever he had salvaged at half price. “I already have a loan of Rs. 4.5 lakh. Now, with this loss, I don’t know if I will be able to repay it at all,” he lamented, while trying to shift a cot.

Mohammed Rahamathullah (63) said his welding outfit was his family’s only source of income for the past 38 years.

Road encroached

It is said that the shops were rented out by the mosque and most of them had encroached upon Mysore Road to an extent of 10 ft to 20 ft. A few shopkeepers alleged that the mosque authorities were hand in glove with the BBMP officials and had not informed them about the demolition. They claimed only a few were told about the drive, and they vacated their shops on Friday night itself.

But the BBMP did not give the others any time to vacate their shops. The shopkeepers were frantically going around the rubble trying to salvage whatever they could of their goods. Later, following pressure, the BBMP gave the shopkeepers a few hours to vacate their premises.

According to a senior official, the BBMP had taken the consent of the mosque authorities before commencing the demolition. Part of the mosque compound would also be demolished, as it too had encroached upon the road. “The mosque authorities have agreed to the demolition. The drive was taken up at 4.30 a.m. as we did not want to disrupt traffic.”

The official said the BBMP had sought police protection and around 250-300 personnel were deployed at the spot.

The demolition affected traffic on the road for several hours in the morning.

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