Since September 2020, the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) has torn down six buildings that gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed owned, including his home and office. Officials said that two of these buildings were built on government-owned land.
“We took ownership of the land after we tore down the two buildings built on government land. Atiq Ahmed owned the last four buildings that were taken down. Those houses were torn down because they were built without getting permission from the right people first. Before the buildings were torn down, the right steps were taken. Atiq Ahmed was given notice,” a top PDA officer said. The official said that no one from Atiq’s family has come forward to talk about the demolitions.
“We find out about the person who owned the land in question from the people who live nearby. “We send a notice to the person who built the building illegally and ask for a response,” the official explained of the process.
In the last two years, the PDA has also taken back three buildings that Atiq had built on government land but was in his ownership.
Atiq’s two-story home in the Chakia neighbourhood of Prayagraj was torn down on September 22, 2020, two days after his office at the Chakia crossing was torn down. About three kilometres separate the house from the office.
The PDA official said that Atiq’s house was on three to four bighas of land. Atiq was said to have taken the neighbours’ land by force and added it to his house. According to the officials, part of his office was torn down because it was built illegally.
“We found that Atiq had built the office building on bigger land than the government had allowed. In October 2004, the government gave the building plan the go-ahead. “In 2019, notices were sent to Atiq’s house asking him to explain the extra building,” a PDA employee said, adding that he did not respond. His office was about 9,000 square feet altogether.
The area that was built without permission was then torn down on September 20, 2020.
Mohammad Sarwar, who ran a grocery store near that building, said that even though the PDA tore down part of the office building, the whole thing was injured. “Because heavy JCB machines were used to tear down the building, even the part that had its plan approved was damaged,” he said. He also said that Atiq’s friends didn’t go back to the spot after it was torn down and didn’t take any furniture from there.
On March 21, Prayagraj police searched the office building where Umesh Pal and two cops were killed on February 24. This happened in the Dhoomanganj area of Prayagraj. Five people were arrested in connection with this crime. Atiq’s driver and his housekeeper were among those who were arrested in this case.
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During that search, the police said they found Rs 72.37 lakh in cash and weapons and ammo in Atiq’s office.
The owners of shops nearby said that a family used to live on the land where Atiq’s office building stood a few years ago. The shop owners say that Atiq put pressure on the family to give him the land for much less than it was worth.
“Atiq built his building on the land he bought a few years after he bought it. He would go to the office twice or three times a week and talk to people there. Manoj Kumar, who runs a paan shop next to the building, said, “There used to be a lot of people there during elections.”
He also said that when the BSP was in power before, the PDA tore down the wall around the office. When the Samajwadi Party took over as the government, the border wall was built again.
Crackdown on Atiq’s properties (2020-21)
- Commercial building built on 4,500 sq ft of govt land in Civil Lines area demolished on September 7, 2020. Authorities take possession of land
- Commercial building on 6,300 sq ft of govt land in Civil Lines razed on Sept 12, 2020. Authorities take possession of land
- PDA takes possession of a building constructed on 6,300 sq ft of govt land in Lukarganj area on Sept 13, 2020
- PDA takes possession of a building built on 23,400 sq ft of govt land in Lukarganj on Sept 13, 2020
- PDA takes possession of a building constructed on 34,200 sq ft of govt land in Lukarganj on Sept 13, 2020
- Atiq’s cold storage in Jhusi area demolished on Sept 17 and 18, 2020
- Illegally built parts of Atiq’s office demolished on Sept 20, 2020
- Atiq’s house razed on Sept 22, 2020
- A building built on 40,500 sq ft of land at Lukarganj demolished, March 7-10, 2021