LUCKNOW: Yawning gaps detected in the yellow zone of Kashi Vishwanath–Gyanvapi Complex in Varanasi which is also PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency on Tuesday comes as an eye opener clearly indicating the unholy nexus among traders, builders and cops in turning the labyrinthine holy city hollow.
The illegal construction sprawling a 8,000 sq ft area unearthed on Tuesday night is just 100 metres from the outer ring of the highly-sensitive Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex putting the security of the entire area till Chowk at risk. Notably, parallel markets mushrooming beneath decades-old buildings in Varanasi is a passé.
However, The Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) had swung into action following the chanced discovery of newly-constructed mini market under buildings in the densely-populated Dalmandi market by SSP RK Bhardwaj on Tuesday night. VDA vice-chairman Rajesh Kumar had ordered sealing of the basement over which the secret mini market was coming up. Three other illegally-constructed basements were also sealed.
SSP RK Bhardwaj, leading the patrolling team, while tracking a small source of light coming out from a small ventilator under an old ‘katra’ (lane of shops) in Dalmandi area, discovered an underground newly-constructed market.
The VDA lodged FIR against seven owners, including Layik Ahmed, Shahid Ali, Mansoor Ahmed, Shamsher Alam, Alia, Shayera Bano and Farzana. Chowk police arrested Layik Ahmed and Shahid Ali and produced them in court on Thursday following which they were sent to jail.
However, there was high drama by traders of Dalmandi area when a team of Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) officials entered the market amid tight security arrangements on Thursday afternoon to survey the area for illegal constructions.
Escorted by police and PAC personnel, a team of six VDA engineers entered Dalmandi market and started surveying buildings. The inspection led to chaos as traders started protesting and pulled down shutters. The traders even took out a procession and shouted slogans against administration, police and VDA officials.
Varanasi Divisional Commissioner and chairman of VDA, Nitin Ramesh Gokarn, had ordered a massive drive against the rampant construction of illegal basements beneath buildings in the Old City.