Between five to six thousand people from Faridabad's Khori village were detained by the Delhi Police on Thursday with the villagers protesting against the impending demolition of houses in the area following a Supreme Court order on June 7. The apex court had directed that the demolition take place within six weeks with the decision affecting more than one lakh forty thousand from over ten thousand families.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Khori Mazdoor Awas Sangharsh Samiti, an organisation representing the interests of the villagers who about to be rendered homeless, alleged that "people of the village are picked up and beaten up by the police in the police station" on a daily basis and cases are filed against them. With electricity and power supply to the village cut off, the organisation claimed that a number of deaths have taken place in the village due to the lack of water.
With four out of the six weeks given to the residents by the SC behind them, fears are now increasing in the area. The Samiti claimed that ten people from the area have died by suicide. It said that with the administration's arrival expected, "people are ready to die in front of the bulldozers themselves before their houses break down," it added.
"The people have no other choice, and the ministers and the government elected by them have remained silent in the face of their questions. In order to make such a large number of people homeless, it is being argued that this Aravalli land comes under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department, on which these people have illegal residence," the Samiti said, while mentioning the 400 acres of land acquired by Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Group in the area.
Accusing the government pandering to corporates, it said that the people's right to live on their land were being taken away. "Is this justice? Is this the development of the country? If this is not justice then how is that people gathering against it are wrong?" the Samiti said.
Opposing the detention of the village residents, the Khori Gaon Awas Sangharsh Samiti listed out four demands. It said that instead of selling the land of the country to companies from outside, the people there should be given the right to live on it. It demanded that the decision to demolish the houses be taken back in favour of the people, compensation be provided for the demolished houses and that officials responsible for the suicides in the village during this period be punished. It added that the supply of electricity, water and basic necessities should be restored immediately in Khori.
On June 7 the Supreme Court directed the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) to “take all essential measures to remove encroachments on the subject forest land without any exception.” For this exercise, the civic body was given six weeks.
The residents of Khori village, most of whom have been living in the region for the past 20 to 25 years, rue that they are being targeted. Moreover, the judgment that will render them homeless couldn’t have come at a worse time, as the families continue to reel under the pressure of the pandemic-induced economic challenges. The next hearing in the matter is scheduled for July 27.
Last week, as the residents called a mahapanchayat to protest against the impending eviction, they were stopped by the Faridabad police. The latter argued that Section 144 was in place and that any congregation would not be allowed as a result. An argument over this soon escalated, leading to police officials lathi-charging the protesting residents.