Indian village demolition intensifies after court ruling over protected forest land

Activists say the migrant workers and working poor have been there for more than 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 broken bricks and other rubble, cupboards, beds and utensils could be seen strewn about 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 the ban on mining, it was sold to the villagers by ‘mafia’ criminals,” said Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, to aim non-profit, which worked with the inhabitants.

“Poor villagers are paying the price for government inadequacies and poor policy-making.”

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

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

In a statement, human rights experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council on Friday urged authorities to end the mass eviction.

“We find it extremely disturbing that India’s highest court, which has in the past spearheaded the protection of the right to housing, is now carrying out evictions putting people at risk of internal displacement and even homelessness,” they said. they stated.

Experts said the demolition would add to the hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of children and young mothers affected.

Police fired journalists on Friday citing security and the “tense atmosphere” of the settlement, which includes rudimentary, plasterless red-brick houses.

The colony is in the state of Haryana which has a relocation program in place. Campaigners say most residents won’t be eligible for housing because they don’t have the proper paperwork. The state had no immediate comment on the demolition.

Christina A. Kroll