With the deadline to “remove encroachments” in Faridabad’s Khori village nearing and tension rife in the area – more so after the Haryana police resorted to lathi-charge last week – solidarity for the area's residents, who are faced with the impending demolition of their homes. has come from trade unions and numerous youth groups.
The coming in of such organisations is helping in two ways: first, with the residents' demands being raised from the former’s platform and so that they can be directed into a more “organised movement.”
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 judgement 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, they said. 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.
On Saturday, a delegation led by the Delhi and Haryana units of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) met Faridabad’s Deputy Commissioner and recorded their condemnation against the police action on local residents. The delegation also included representatives from its sister organisations, including the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and Sarv Karamchari Sangha, Haryana.
“The delegation told him that the [Haryana] government’s action is a clear violation of human rights. We also demanded that the Faridabad administration should immediately start electricity and water supply in Khori village,” said Jai Bhagwan, general secretary, CITU Haryana.
Water and electricity supply in the region was reportedly stopped by the administration following the apex court’s judgement.
In another instance, several youth groups in the past week have also come forward with an aim to “organise” the local residents. Lata, an activist with the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, told Newsclick on Monday that the residents are being organised, in a move that will “strengthen their struggle” and not just address their immediate concerns.
“We are trying to bring the residents together by forming WhatsApp groups. We are also forming Mohalla committees to ensure a flow of information among the residents,” she said. These local groups among the residents are also important to raise their demands for “better housing” in urban areas in the future, she added.
Additionally, the Khori village residents have also found support from the leaders of the farmers’ movement, underway at the borders of Delhi since November last year. Bharatiya Kisan Union – Haryana leader Gurnam Singh Charuni was to address the said mahapanchayat in the Khori village, but was reportedly stopped from entering the village.
A spokesperson from the union told Newsclick on Monday that the farmers were in solidarity with the Khori village residents. “We will not let the government raze their homes in Khori village,” he said.
Shakeel Ahmed of Basti Suraksha Manch, one among the groups in “solidarity” with the Khori village residents, said on Monday that the coming in of the various organisations in support has strengthened the resolve of Khori village residents in their fight against the impending demolition.
“It has already become a national issue now. The support from these groups will also help in raising larger demands pertaining to the housing rights of the urban working force,” he said.