SC stays order on mass eviction in Haldwani over ‘Encroached Land’

SC stays order on mass eviction in Haldwani over ‘Encroached Land’

“Can’t uproot 50,00 overnight” as SC stayed Uttarakhand HC’s order on eviction of 50,000 residents in Haldwani over land which Indian Railways claims is encroached upon.

In a mass relief to more than 4,000 families, the Supreme Court has ordered a stay on the eviction of the residents in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura area. The 29 acres of land are disputed by the Indian Railways as being encroached upon illegally by the residents.

A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka said it is a ‘human issue’ and have asked to find a workable solution to remove and rehabilitate them. “You have to find a practical way out.” the SC said to the Indian Railways. The case has been posted for further hearings till 7th February. 

The area in question is a 2km strip near the Haldwani Railway Station covering the areas of Gafoor Basti, Dholak Basti, and Indira Nagar. The area is home to 50,000 residents of which 90% are Muslim. Except for homes, the area also has 4 Government Schools, 11 Private Schools, 10 Mosques, 4 Temples, and 1 Bank. These structures have been built over many decades in the area which the Indian Railways considers now to be illegal. 

On 20th December the Uttarakhand High Court ordered the demolition of buildings in the encroached areas. They also order the eviction of the people living there by “using forces to any extent determining upon need”.  Acting upon this order the District Administration issued notices in newspapers asking the residents to take their belongings by 9th January. 

Many residents protested this eviction by holding candle marches, sit-ins, and prayers. The protests received supporters from various opposition leaders and activists alike. Former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and senior Congress leader Harish Rawat held an hour-long vow of silence at his home in Dehradun. “If 50,000 people including children, pregnant women, old men, and women are forced to vacate their homes and come out on roads, then it would be a very sad sight,” he said.

SC stays order on mass eviction in Haldwani over ‘Encroached Land’
Image – Economic Times

The legal battle started way back in 2013. It was filed in the form of a petition opposing illegal sand mining in a river near the area. It then widened to illegal encroachments afterwards. 

Thousands were saved from the prospect of facing homelessness in the cruel winter of Uttarakhand where temperatures go as low as 1C. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the government will respect the apex court’s decision. 

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