A Rajuk bulldozer, which accompanied a mobile court to clear three commercial plots of illegal vegetable markets in the capital's Karwan Bazar, instead went back being vandalised by unruly traders yesterday.
The bulldozer was attacked near the Petrobangla office after the eviction team cleared one plot of illegal vegetable shops and moved to clear the remaining two.
Meanwhile, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) said in a press release that during the eviction drive, some "miscreants" vandalised over 10 motor vehicles in front of the city corporation's Karwan Bazar zonal office.
DNCC had no role in the Rajuk eviction drive, and still vandalising the corporation's vehicles was ill-motivated and that legal action would be taken against destruction of public property, the release said.
The traders went berserk when the eviction team moved to the remaining two plots. At one stage, they suddenly went out to block the nearby Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue and later vandalised the vehicles in front of the DNCC zonal office.
As police drove them away from the Avenue, they on their way back smashed all the glasses and other parts of the bulldozer, said Md Adiluzzaman, authorised officer of Rajdhani Unnyan Kartripakkha (Rajuk).
The drive was part of Rajuk's ongoing campaign to reclaim car park spaces and remove obstacles for traffic movement.
The eviction team first cleared plot 44 unopposed but faced resistance when they moved to plot 35 and 42, owned by one AKM Joinul Abedin Khan.
As the commotion was brewing up, the driver of another bulldozer parked in front of the DNCC zonal office left the scene without any high official's permission even though the vehicle was meant for the eviction drive.
Executive Magistrate Khandker Oliur Rahman, who was conducting the mobile court, was seen frantically trying to stop the bulldozer from leaving the scene. “Who let the bulldozer leave the scene,” he was heard angrily saying to the authorised officer Adiluzzaman, who replied, “I did not allow it; the driver left on his own.”
Sawdagor Mustafizur Rahman, a Rajuk director for development control, accompanying the eviction team, was heard saying, “Let the bulldozer stay away.”
Adiluzzaman turning to Mustafizur Rahman in a clear, angry voice said, “We are not getting the necessary cooperation in carrying out the eviction drive and no command is working here.”
As this correspondent asked why the bulldozer should be away, Mustafizur Rahman said, “Our aim is to dismantle the illegal structures, and we are concentrating on it.”
After a prolonged drama of confusion and inaction, the executive magistrate obtained an undertaking from Delwar Hossain Khan Bachchu, representative of AKM Joinul Abedin Khan, which stated that the owner would remove the structures on his own within the next two days.
Oliur Rahman said compared to a huge mob of traders, a 20-member police team was inadequate to carry out the eviction in the face of resistance.
He said they gave requisition for five platoons (each containing 100 personnel) of police but got only one platoon. He said they would come back with adequate force later in case the owner did not comply with the undertaking.
Owners of at least five such commercial plots have long been running illegal wholesale vegetable markets in the plots in violation of lease terms causing a severe traffic mess in this important business hub, said Adiluzzaman.
With a court injunction on plot 36 and 43, Rajuk attempted to clear the other three.
Delwar Hossain Khan Bachchu said Rajuk had never asked them to build commercial buildings there and never objected to building of kitchen markets on the plots. Adiluzzaman said these were commercial plots and the lease holders were required to go by the term of the lease deed to build approved commercial buildings there.