Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh's supporters on Thursday clashed with the police over the move to evict him from the government residence in Delhi even as the Centre rejected his demand that the house be converted into a memorial to his father, former Prime Minister Charan Singh.
With an eye on Jat votes in the upcoming Haryana elections, the Congress also demanded that the 12 Tughlaq Road be declared a national memorial to the Jat leader. The Janata Dal-United too lent its support to it.
Over 30 persons were injured as police fired rubber bullets, lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse activists of Bhartiya Kisan Union and Rashtriya Lok Dal who turned violent as the police thwarted their attempt to cut-off water supply to Delhi from Gangnahar Muradnagar regulator in the Uttar Pradesh district bordering the national capital.
"They (supporters) had given a call to cut water supply to Delhi and for that 10,000 supporters of the BKU and RLD had assembled at the regulator at Muradnagar. It was a volatile situation because the crowd had come with stones and bottles," Alok Sharma, Inspector General, Meerut said.
District Magistrate Vimal Kumar Sharma said that the police were provoked by the stone pelting mob. Twenty two policemen were injured in the clash, he said.
Among the injured were ten protesters, the IG said, adding that people had assembled from Saharnpur, Moradabad, Agra, and Meerut range following a call by the RLD.
The party claimed that three MLAs Sudesh Sharma (Modi Nagar), Bhagwati Prashad (Aligarh, Khair) and Dalbeer Singh (Aligarh) along with many other party leaders were injured in the police action.
Last week, power and water supplies to official residences of former Union minister Ajit Singh and other ex-MPs were disconnected by the government as they were not eligible for the facility and were overstaying despite being slapped with eviction notice.
Singh said he would vacate his government bungalow by next week but supported the agitation saying that people want the house to be converted into a memorial for Charan Singh as he stayed there for 36 years.
He said that when there can be memorials for leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Kanshi Ram, there can be one for his father.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and JD-U) general secretary K C Tyagi wrote to Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu making the demand while the Bhartiya Kisan Union threatened to launch a stir and disrupt water supply to Delhi from Gangnahar Muradnagar regulator. But the government dismissed the demand.
The bungalow cannot be converted into a memorial as the Union cabinet in 2000 banned conversion of government bungalows into memorials in the name of departed leaders, said a senior urban development ministry official in Delhi.
"Later the Supreme Court in a judgment in the Karnataka Road Transport Corporation related case in July 2013 has suggested to the government not to allow conversion of any bungalows into memorials," the official said.
Strongly refuting allegations on the government move, Naidu replied to Hooda that it was "neither an unceremonious nor a discourteous act as due procedure and time limits have been observed."
Photograph: RLD supporters holding a protest in Ghaziabad on Thursday. Photograph: PTI