LUCKNOW: An underground market detected in the yellow zone of the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Complex in Varanasi, which is also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, has come as an eye-opener to city authorities.
The illegal construction spread over 8,000 square feet, which was unearthed on Tuesday night, is just 100 metres from the outer periphery of the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex. It poses a risk to the security of the entire area up to Chowk. Markets have long mushroomed beneath decades-old buildings in Varanasi.
The Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) swung into action following the chance discovery of the newly constructed market under buildings in the densely populated Dalmandi market by SSP RK Bhardwaj. Rajesh Kumar, VDA vice-chairman, has ordered sealing of the basement on which the secret market was coming up. Three other illegally-constructed basements were also sealed.
Bhardwaj was leading a patrolling team when he saw light coming from a small ventilator under an old lane of shops in the Dalmandi area. On investigating, he discovered a newly constructed underground market.
The VDA lodged an FIR against seven shop 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, after which they were sent to jail.
However, traders of Dalmandi area protested when a team of VDA officials entered the market on Thursday afternoon to survey it 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 shuttered their shops. The traders took out a procession and shouted slogans against the administration, the police and VDA officials.