The government today deployed a large number of police personnel to continue the road expansion work at Balaju, which has been halted by the Supreme Court for the last four years.

Earlier, on February 24, police had arrested six prominent locals and activists who had been vocal against the road expansion project.

On the same day, two more activists were arrested for speaking in Newari. Their families and locals have been saying that they were arrested without any arrest warrant.

They are likely to be presented at the court only on Monday.

As the locals are in fear of being jailed after February 24, the government has intensified the construction work by deploying a large security force. Dozens of construction workers and two excavators were deployed at the site guarded by police at both ends of the 150-metre road stretch. Expansion of the road stretch from Bais Dhara Park to Balaju Bypass has irked the locals. They have been urging the government not to widen the road at the cost of their homes since it was a link road and another wider road to the same destination was just a few hundred metre away.

Altogether 49 houses will be partially affected, while seven houses will be completely demolished for the road expansion, as per locals.

The government has shown no interest in addressing their problems.

At least 17 households have not received compensation money given by the government for their loss. Locals had filed a case against the government to stop the expansion work and the SC had issued an order to halt the expansion work.

Though the court has not given the final verdict on the case yet.

Rabindra Kumar Shrestha, a local activist and a member of Progressive Civil Forum, said, "Today's incident is hooliganism on the part of the government who resorted to force. The government arrested us, intimidated us and then used excessive force to displace us from our ancestral land."

Another local, Bidhya Shrestha, said that people who criticised the government move, were arrested on fake charges. "Arresting someone for using one's mother tongue is sheer violation of people's rights," he added.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 28, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.