Indore 150 shops razed around Gopal Mandir, Rajwada to make way for Smart city

Indore: As part of Smart City project, a joint-team of Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), district administration and police on Sunday demolished about 150 shops around Gopal Mandir and Rajwada amidst protests from aggrieved shopkeepers and their family members. Police used cane-charge to disperse the crowd and also arrested some protestors to make way for the demolition drive.  “Police had to take action against those who were obstructing the official work,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Devendra Singh.

As part of Smart City project, Gopal Mandir is to be renovated to restore its lost glory. Many shops on the way to shrine and around Rajwada Fort were posing hurdles before this project so the IMC had decided to remove them. About a month ago, the IMC had given notices to the shopkeepers asking them to vacate their establishments for the project.

On Friday, the IMC had given an ultimatum of 24 hours to the shopkeepers. By Saturday night, most of the shopkeepers vacated their establishments even when they were against the demolition drive. On Sunday, a team of 200 removal gang employees, nearly 150 policemen in tow, armed with two poclain, seven JCB machines and 10 dumpers reached Rajwada area around 9 am.  But they were not allowed to proceed with the demolition drive. The shopkeepers staged a sit-in at the site demanding alternative shops.

The IMC and district officers tried to pacify them but to no avail. After sometime, social activist Kishor Kodwani also reached the scene and demanded in writing that the aggrieved shopkeepers will be allocated shops elsewhere. The officers informed them that the displaced shopkeepers will be allocated space in old SP office near Badwali Chowki until permanent shops for them at reasonable price near Rajwada is not provided to them.

The officers also informed them that a G+2 complex, housing nearly 150 shops, would be constructed behind Gopal Mandir where they would be made allocations but the shopkeepers were not ready to give in protest until an assurance for the same was given.  When the officers denied giving anything in writing, the protestors and their family members intensified the agitation.  This forced police to use mild lathicharge and arrest protestors including women and Kodwani. After that demolition drive was undertaken.  “Nearly 150 shops, including 58 kiosks (34 allocated by the IMC, 17 by Usharaj Trust and seven by Imambada), 26 puccs shops, 61 blocks inside Gopal Mandir premises were knocked down,” Singh said.

Rear gate of Rajwada freed

Some shopkeepers had encroached upon land around Rajwada and made temporary shops there. Even rear gate of Rajwada was encroached upon and was being used as godown. When the demolition drive was carried out, the gate was found. Many shopkeepers had hammered nails in the walls of Rajwada Fort and established temporary shops. “They were damaging the heritage monument so their shops have also been removed,” Singh said.

Similarly, some shopkeepers were also damaging the wall of ancient temple so their establishments too were removed. All these shops were illegal, Singh said.