Residents of Bhayli area, which was recently included in the limits of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), held a protest at the office of the Vadodara District Collector on Friday, threatening to boycott the civic body polls if their demand to include the area under The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, was not met.
The residents want to include the area under the Act, popularly known as the Disturbed Areas Act (DA Act), and cancel the allotment of homes to the minority community under the upcoming Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana housing scheme of the Vadodara Urban Development Authority (VUDA).
The residents led by women, who have formed a group under the name Bhayli Awareness group, reached the office of the District Collector, to submit a memorandum with their demands.
Citing that Bhayli has been a “developing, peaceful neighbourhood”, the memorandum urged the administration to include the area under the DA Act stating “the possibility of law and order disruption in Bhayli area in the coming days should minorities from the neighbouring area of Tandalja begin to shift here. If our demand is to include our area in the unrest. If our demand is not met, we will boycott the corporation elections altogether”.
Drishti Panchal and Mital Patel who are among the protestors, said, “Our area is a peace-loving Hindu neighbourhood… But the peace is likely to be shattered as houses are being allotted to Muslims… We want our area to be included under the Disturbed Areas Act so that peace can prevail… If our demand is not met, we will boycott the elections.”
The memorandum demanded the inclusion of Bhayli along with Town Planning Scheme areas 1 to 5 under the purview of the Act. Pramod Vasava, Executive Engineer (Affordable Housing) of the VMC said that the corporation had “nothing to do with the housing scheme or the allotments as the beneficiaries were not from VMC limits”, while a senior VMC official confirmed that several displaced residents of slums in Vadodara, including Muslim families from the city’s controversial Kalyannagar demolitions, have been allotted homes in the said project.
Resident Additional Collector, Vadodara, DR Patel, told The Indian Express, “We received the memorandum of the residents and it is not the first time that they have submitted it. However, since the area does not fall under the Disturbed Areas Act as of now, there is no guideline under which their demand can be entertained… Government projects can definitely have beneficiaries from any community.”