Indian village demolition escalates despite UN protests

FARIDABAD, India: Indian authorities on Saturday continued the demolition of thousands of homes in a village near New Delhi despite protests from human rights activists and UN experts.

Bulldozers and earthmovers began operation this week in Khori, a settlement of tens of thousands near the Delhi border which the Supreme Court said is protected forest land and must be cleared.

Campaigners say migrant workers and working poor have been there for over 30 years and the forest was destroyed by mining decades ago.

Police erected barricades on Friday to prevent journalists and others from entering the area, which the court said should be cleared by July 19.

But huge piles of brick debris and other rubble, cupboards, beds and utensils could be seen strewn outside.

Activists say there were at least 5,000 homes in the settlement, which had its own schools and places of worship.

“The land was used for mining and after mining was banned, it was sold to villagers by ‘mafia’ criminals,” Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of Popular Movements told nonprofit, which worked with residents.

“Poor villagers pay the price for inadequate government and poor policy making. “

Before the demolition began, the electricity and water supplies were cut off in the houses and even tankers were not allowed to enter.

Residents said there was a confrontation with police officers armed with batons when the bulldozers entered. Police denied that there was any violence.

Christina A. Kroll

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