Bihar: The building demolition episode has revived memories of recent bridge “theft”. (Representational)
The demolition of a panchayat building in north Bihar district of Muzaffarpur, allegedly without the requisite permission, and auction of the bricks extracted from the rubble have snowballed into a controversy in the state.
The building was situated in Aurai panchayat and it was razed upon the instructions of Umashankar Gupta, the local mukhiya, who has claimed that the structure was in a state of disuse.
Local residents, however, allege that what Mr Gupta said was not true as the building had served as a polling centre during the panchayat elections held a few months ago.
“It is a matter of inquiry. If the demolition has taken place illegally then I will see to it that the guilty are punished. But if the mukhiya was armed with requisite permission from authorities concerned, we cannot call it an irregularity,” Land Reform and Revenue Minister Ram Surati Rai, who represents Aurai in the assembly, told reporters in Patna.
The incident is being reported in local media as “panchayat bhavan ki chori” (theft of panchayat building), much to the delight of opposition parties like the RJD which is sharing such news items on its official Twitter handle.
The episode has revived memories of the “theft” of an iron bridge in Rohtas district.
It came to light during investigations that the 60-feet-long defunct metal structure was dismantled by some government officials illegally by misleading curious villagers who were told it was being done “as per orders.”
Many of those involved in the bridge heist, including a sub-divisional officer, have been arrested.
Meanwhile, in the Muzaffarpur court which remains saddled with cases lodged against VVIPs by over-zealous legal activists, a complaint was lodged in connection with the incident naming Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Mr Rai and one of his cabinet colleagues as among the accused.
The case was lodged at the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (West), Muzaffarpur, by Anand Kumar Jha who identifies himself as the founding chief of a non-descript political party Lok Chetna Dal.
“Our petition will come up for hearing on May 21. Besides the CM and Rai, Panchayati Raj minister Samrat Chaudhary, the mukhiya and three government officials including the Muzaffarpur DM Pranav Kumar have been named as accused,” Mr Jha’s counsel Manoj Singh told reporters.
The complaint has been lodged under various IPC sections including 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 406 (breach of trust) and 420 (cheating), Mr Jha added.
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