UN human rights experts call on India to halt Faridabad's Khori Gaon evictions
The experts said the residents have already been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the eviction order would put them at greater risk and bring even more hardship to some 20,000 children.
CHANDIGARH: The Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) is going ahead with the demolition drive at Khori village to clear encroachments in the Aravali forest area, as directed by the Supreme Court last month, even as the UN Human Rights office urged the government on Friday to halt the ‘eviction’ of nearly one lakh people at a time when they are already facing hardships because of the pandemic.
With the six-week deadline set by the Supreme Court for removing the encroachments ending July 19, the MCF had kicked off the demolition drive on Wednesday. Over 2,000 police personnel were deployed to maintain law and order. The police had heavily barricaded entry and exit points to the village.
“The demolition drive is going on peacefully and there is no resistance from the public. They understand that this is a Supreme Court order,” said Yashpal, Deputy Commissioner of Faridabad. “Our teams have demolished approximately 800 structures in three days and a few were demolished earlier.
There are around 5,300 such structures in the area in which about 10,000 people were staying. We are razing the buildings and also clearing the debris.” The demolition was started only after a rehabilitation policy was announced on Tuesday. The residents will be allotted EWS flats at two places.
SC order on evictions worrying, says UN rights body
“Registratio ns for allotting the EWS flats began Friday, and 121 applications came on the first day. After scrutinising thm, the flats will be allotted to those eligible,” Yashpal added. On Friday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in a statement, appealed to the Indian government “to respect its own laws and its own goal of eliminating homelessness by 2022 and to spare homes of 100,000 people who mostly come from minority and marginalised communities”.
It said the eviction would “bring even more hardship to some 20,000 children, many of whom may remain out of school, and 5,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women”. Calling the Supreme Court’s order “extremely worrying”, the OHCHR said its role “is to uphold the laws and to interpret them in light of internationally recognised human rights standards, not to undermine them”.
It urged the government to “urgently review its plans” and “consider regularizing the settlement”. “No one should be forcibly evicted without adequate and timely compensation and redress,” it said and added, “It is especially important that this act of mass displacement does not happen dur ing the pandemic.”
‘Spare homes of poor’
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged government to respect its own laws and goal of eliminating homelessness by 2022 and to spare homes of 100,000 people.