Bulldozer Operation Sparks Chaos in Lucknow’s Akbar Nagar Locality

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LDA’s demolition drive raises concerns over displacement and lack of alternatives

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The tranquillity of Akbar Nagar near Kukrel Nala in the Uttar Pradesh capital city of Lucknow was shattered by the resumption of bulldozer operation in the early hours of Monday. With traffic halted on Ayodhya Road, authorities, accompanied by a heavy police and paramilitary presence, descended upon the settlement. The scene was reminiscent of a military operation as officers, armed with demolition orders, announced through loudspeakers the imminent evacuation of homes.

The Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) has deemed the entire settlement illegal, despite residents having called Akbar Nagar home for over four decades. The community, however, has been embroiled in legal battles, seeking recourse through the courts to halt the demolitions. Yet, their pleas for relief have fallen on deaf ears.

For the demolition drive, the whole area was barricaded and traffic diverted, with eight companies of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), and Rapid Action Force (RPF) on watch to maintain law and order. Upon seeing the bulldozers, residents began gathering their belongings, with some showing stiff resistance against the government’s action.

Speaking against the backdrop of the ongoing demolition, Aisha, a resident, expressed her dismay: “An atmosphere of terror has been created in the entire region. Even before this, my father has been targeted for raising his voice,” she said.

Residents, like Shahabullah Khan, lament the lack of alternative accommodation. “I was not given a house under the PM’s accommodation scheme because I do not have an Aadhaar card,” he said, highlighting bureaucratic hurdles in accessing government support.

Raju, another long-time resident, voiced his concerns. “I was born here, forty years ago. It’s very difficult for the children to read and write. How will we pay the installments for the house being provided,” he asked.

The plight of the residents has drawn attention to the broader issue of displacement and the failure of authorities to provide adequate solutions. Mohammad Furqan, speaking to Clarion India, expressed the desperation felt by many. “The situation is like doomsday. There is no one to listen to our pain,” he said.

The LDA, however, remains steadfast in its efforts, citing the need for urban redevelopment and adherence to court orders.

As the demolition process unfolds, questions linger over the fate of multi-storied buildings, madrasas, and religious places that dot Akbar Nagar. While officials pledge caution in their approach, the spectre of displacement looms large over the community.

The ongoing turmoil underscores the need for a more humane approach to urban development, one that prioritises the welfare of residents and ensures their livelihoods are not sacrificed in the name of progress. As bulldozers continue to reshape the landscape of Akbar Nagar, the voices of its displaced residents serve as a poignant reminder of the human cost of development.

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