50,000 people can't be uprooted overnight: SC halts Haldwani eviction
The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Uttarakhand High Court's judgment that allowed the eviction of over 4,000 families from Indian Railways' land near Haldwani. After hearing a slew of petitions opposing the eviction, the court issued a notice to the state government and the railways. The matter will again be heard on February 7 by the Supreme Court.
What did the SC bench say?
While hearing the petitions, SC said, "50,000 people can't be uprooted overnight." The bench, comprised of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka, disapproved of the manner in which the eviction was sought. The HC decision against encroachments on 29 acres of Indian Railway's land in Haldwani, Uttarakhand was challenged through various petitions. The issue also triggered protests and political battles in Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand High Court's 'controversial' order
On December 20, the Uttarakhand High Court ordered the demolition of alleged encroachment on around 29 acres of railways' land in Haldwani. The high court ruled that the residents should be given one week's notice to remove their property. It also instructed police and paramilitary forces to forcibly remove anyone who refused to leave the land despite notifications.
Sit-in protest by aggrieved residents
As per reports, residents in the region have been protesting against the high court order. Residents also held a candle march, urging that the directive be revoked. Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the area, with the administration stating that eight companies of the India Reserve Battalion, the Provincial Armed Constabulary, and ten companies of the Railway Protection Force will soon be deployed.
Opposition lend support to protesters
Opposition parties have backed the protests while criticizing the state administration led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While a Samajwadi Party delegation also participated in the protest with those facing eviction from "encroached" railways land, former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat staged a silent protest at his residence. Sumit Hridayesh, Congress Party MLA from Haldwani, is one of the petitioners in the case.
What do we know about the issue?
Residents of more than 4,000 houses built on railways land in Banbhulpura and Gafoor Basti of Haldwani have been served eviction notices. Due to this, these families are at risk of becoming homeless. As per reports, more than 50,000 people (mostly Muslims) are settled on the land, and some families have been living here for several decades.