In an operation that the residents claim took them by surprise, a Bangalore Development Authority team demolished five houses in Srinagar at Banashankari First Stage, Second Block, on Wednesday.
Claiming that the houses were built on a civic amenity site belonging to the BDA, its officials said the 16,000 sq ft plot had been given to the People's Education Society (PES) run by MLC M.R. Doreswamy on a 30-year lease.
Four of the houses were constructed by daily wage earners, who claimed they had been living there for the last 40 years. Saraswati Bai (60), a resident of one of the bigger houses in the cluster, said the property has been with her family for over 100 years. But it was under dispute and the matter is before the court, she added.
Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Councillor Thimme Gowda of the Janata Dal (Secular) alleged that the BDA had acted in haste owing to political connections of those running PES. “The proximity that Mr. Doreswamy shares with the Chief Minister is well known,” he told presspersons, while charging BDA officials with “acting like agents of the ruling party”.
High drama prevailed at the time the demolition was being carried out in the afternoon. Residents, whose belongings were flung on the street, initially pleaded with the demolition team to stop but tried to take them on when their pleas fell on deaf ears. The police intervened and dragged them away when they refused to leave the spot.
The arrival of television crews and the presence of a large posse of policemen attracted hordes of curious people to the spot, resulting in a traffic snarl on the narrow road.
The residents have decided to stay put. When last checked, they were making plans to spend the night out in the open.