Uttar Pradesh government Monday used a bulldozer to raze illegal construction outside the ground floor apartment of absconding politician Shrikant Tyagi, who is accused of assaulting a woman resident in his housing society in Noida.
So far six police officials have been suspended for alleged laxity in connection with the case, even as six aides of Tyagi who had barged into the Grand Omaxe society in Sector 93B on Sunday evening were arrested and sent to jail.
Tyagi, who is at large since Friday evening, moved a local court in the Gautam Buddh Nagar district with a plea for surrender-related procedures but the hearing in the matter has been listed for August 10, a government lawyer told PTI.
Until he went underground Friday night, Tyagi claimed he was associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party, even as the ruling party denied any links with him.
The Opposition has also mounted attack on the BJP over the issue.
"Did the BJP government not know for so many years that the construction by the Noida BJP leader is illegal? Bulldozer action is only for show. The government is avoiding the answers to these questions," Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet in Hindi.
"Who is giving him courage to indulge in indecent behaviour with a woman and threaten women openly by sending 10-15 goons? Who is it who kept saving him," the Congress general secretary asked.
The demolition action was carried out around 9 am by the Noida Authority to remove the illegal structures outside Tyagi's ground floor apartment in the society, an official told PTI.
As the row escalated, the UP police intensified searches for Tyagi, who, according to senior officials in Noida, is set to be booked under the stringent Gangsters Act.
In Lucknow, Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Prashant Kumar said the UP government and the state's police chief have made it clear that such incidents will not be tolerated.
"The in-charge of the local police station has been suspended. Besides him, a sub-inspector and four constables have also been suspended over laxity in work," Kumar said.
He added that two personal security officers have also been provided to the woman complainant in the case.
The senior officer said police are making all efforts, including usage of human intelligence and technical surveillance, in order to nab Tyagi.
The Noida police said in a statement that they have announced a reward of Rs 25,000 on the arrest of the accused.
Tyagi had encroached upon a portion of the common area of the society in front of his flat by constructing a temporary porch using designer wooden pillars and tiles. He had also planted trees in a park in front of his residence.
Residents alleged he was using the common space as private property.
Police personnel in large numbers were deployed at the society since Sunday evening, even as senior officers interacted with Grand Omaxe residents.
Tyagi had allegedly hurled expletives and assaulted the woman co-resident of Grand Omaxe who had objected to him planting trees in the common area of the society. Tyagi had claimed that he was well within his rights to do so.
The residents lauded the government's "bulldozer" move Monday but also sought the early arrest of Tyagi even as some of them distributed sweets to each other on the occasion.
"We had been raising the issue of encroachment for three years and finally, it has happened. We thank the Uttar Pradesh government and the Noida Authority for it," an elderly resident of the society told reporters.
Swati Agarwal Singh, another resident, said the residents welcomed the demolition action and were now waiting for Tyagi's arrest.
"This was long pending. The Noida Authority issued the demolition letter in 2020 only but nothing was done. But anyway, better late than never," she told PTI.
Singh said she was the secretary of residents' association in 2019 when the illegal constructions had started and the residents had been highlighted the matter since then.
"Yesterday, Noida MLA Pankaj Singh and Lok Sabha MP Mahesh Sharma had assured us that Tyagi would be arrested soon. We want his early arrest," she added.
Over 1,000 families reside in the society.
Gautam Buddh Nagar District Magistrate Suhas L Yathiraj and Police Commissioner Alok Singh had visited the society on Sunday night after a dozen of Tyagi's aides barged into the society. Local BJP leaders had also visited the society and lashed out at the police for inaction in the case.