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Khori Village: Demolitions Continue Unabated, Residents Call Rehabilitation Policy a Cruel Joke

Sumedha Pal |
As people continue to be evicted from their homes in the midst of a global pandemic, the Haryana government has announced homes for those with annual incomes up to Rs 3 lakh but no arrangement has been made yet and residents are to be paid a meagre Rs 2,000 per month for rent.

A month after the Supreme Court order on June 7, the Haryana state government and the Faridabad Municipal Corporation alongside the Haryana Police began the process of evicting residents of Faridabad’s Khori village from their homes on July 14. This was followed by an enormous ongoing demolition drive which has removed over 500 dwellings until now and is in full swing. 

As rains lashed the city of Delhi on Wednesday (July 14) – with no alternative housing solution, ration, electricity or water, the evicted families have now taken shelter under the trees in shock and devastation. Khori village located in the Delhi-Haryana border has been home to over 1 lakh people, with over 10,000 homes. The Supreme Court verdict had reiterated in one of its kind precedent that the question of rehabilitation will be handled later and first evictions must be carried out in the light of protecting the green cover of the region. 

On the second day of the demolition drive on July 15, those being removed from their homes thronged the streets with children, crying and begging the authorities to stall the process. Earlier in the morning the residents also reported a lathicharge by the police which left many injured.

Moreover, media persons were threatened and asked to back off from the site of demolitions. NewsClick team was told that they will be responsible if any harm or injury is caused to them. The forces stopped the recording of any footage or testimonies at the site of demolition.

Speaking with NewsClick, Rameena* who was allegedly injured in the lathicharge on Thursday, said, “The courts, the state government and the forces have shown no empathy in removing us so mercilessly from our homes. Moreover, brutal force is being used against us since the verdict came out. I was left injured and fainted as a JCB nearly rolled over me.” 

For the past one month, the Haryana government has gone all out to ensure that the residents leave their dwellings and any or every expression of protest is silenced, as alleged by the resident. Earlier on June 11, many residents faced detentions over sloganeering against the state government. On June 30, a mega panchayat was stalled and residents were lathicharged for congregating and sharing their testimonies.

Also read: Khori Evictions: A Month After Supreme Court Orders, Fears Loom Large

Over five suicides have been reported in Khori already, allegedly owing to the anxiety and stress of the evictions as most dwellings are held by migrant workers, who came to Delhi to seek work and bought this land from middlemen and property dealers in a bid to save rent.

Talking about the rehabilitation policy, Shadab*, who worked as a carpenter prior to the pandemic, said, “The rehabilitation policy is a cruel joke on all our faces. We had sold off everything to come and live here. But they have broken our spirit and our every hope to get justice. My house is next in line to be broken down and I have no property, no other home or alternative centre to go to.”

Notably, just a day prior to the demolition, a rehabilitation plan, ‘Policy for Rehabilitation of Khori Jhuggi Dwellers’, was made public by the Haryana government, which states that residents will get alternative housing. However, the conditions laid down by the plan seem impossible to achieve, the residents allege. 

The conditions state that those with an annual income of up to Rs 3 lakh will be considered for an allotment. The plan also states that the name of the head of the family needs to be registered in the voter list of Badkhal Assembly constituency of Haryana as on January 1, 2021; and the head of family is required to have an identity card issued by the state of Haryana as on January 1, 2021; and if any member of the family has an electricity collection issued by the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN).

However, the alternative accommodation has not been set up by the government yet. Instead, residents are to be paid Rs 2,000 a month for six months to rent a house somewhere else. Sameena* another resident, said, “This is just the apathy and the cruelty of the state. How do I take eight members of the family and rent a home for just Rs 2,000? These were our homes that were taken from us while we were labelled as encroachers, how is this fair?”

Even as legal intervention has been sought in the issue, demolitions are reportedly likely to continue, with the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad and state government aiming to meet the target of complete evictions by July 27, which ends the six week stipulated period by the Supreme Court.

*Names of residents have been changed fearing backlash from the authorities.

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