A month after the Supreme Court ordered evictions of over 1 lakh residents of Khori village in Haryana’s Faridabad district, residents are continuing their agitation as they battle fears and apathy from the government.
The village with over 10,000 homes lies on the Delhi-Haryana border and is now facing snapped electricity and water supplies. The state government is required to submit a compliance report to the Supreme Court by July 27 as the six week period ends. While continuing their protests for the past one month has given residents hope—10 bulldozers were seen lining the borders of the village last evening, claimed the resident—which renewed their fear and panic. Moreover, residents claim that they continue to be hauled up by the police as they speak out and initiate protests.
Describing the present situation,, Sapna Gupta, a resident of the village, told NewsClick, “We have been convening regular protest meetings and it is our unity which has kept us safe. The government has been on a surveillance of the area with drones. Yesterday, they had even sent bulldozers to the area – however, with people coming out of their homes no action was taken. We strongly feel that this is an attempt among many ongoing attempts to scare us off into leaving our homes. Many had left earlier but they have come back, committing to fight for their right to housing and life.”
Despite the crackdown on the residents onJune 30 for congregating at the Ambedkar Park which resulted in lathi charge and detention, residents organised yet another meeting at the same park on July 7 sharing testimonies of the ongoing crackdown.
Meanwhile as the resistance continues, Khori residents continue to live in fear. “I was hauled up by the police for the second time in a row today,'' said Shamsher, a resident, describing his ordeal. “Men wearing civil dress tried to detain me and take me with them, I was detained on the 30th too, post the protest,” he added.
“Today when they approached me, I was fearing I will be taken to the police station again. I do not understand why I am being targeted, without any cause. This is despite the fact that I have been representing the residents and also liaising with the government to chalk out a solution to stop our evictions,” he explained.
Also read: Aravalli Evictions: Haryana Police Stop Protest, Lathi Charge Villagers of Khori
Reportedly, a representative group of seven members including Shamsher met with the Haryana government officials in Haryana Bhawan on July 4. The meeting included the Chief Minister’s OSD Ajay Gaur, Tehesildar Yashwant Singh and Badkal SP Sukhbir Singh. The residents had demanded that a survey be carried out before any decision and sought assurance that the area will not be demolished.
Following this, on July 6, over 500 residents from Khori had also gathered at Jantar Mantar and were aiming to gherao the Prime Minister’s residence. Similar protests have been lined up over the course of the next few days.
The court had ordered the eviction and the demolition of the residential colony in a bid to protect the green cover of Aravalli mountain range. In its judgement on June 7, the court had sought compliance reports from Haryana government officials within six weeks, after which Section 144 was imposed in the village prohibiting the gathering of four or more persons following the apex court judgement.
While the court has ordered the clearing of the land, residents of the village, largely migrant workers, find themselves anxious over losing a roof over their heads at a time when the pandemic has already claimed lives and their means of survival.
In a bid to oppose the order and demand rehabilitation and accommodation, the residents had also staged a protest on June 11. However, about 100 persons now face charges for raising their voice while others were detained. Charges against the residents include Sections 109, 114, 147, 149, 186, 188, 269, 283, 341 and 506 of the IPC, and Section 61 of the Disaster Management Act. The residents had gathered on the main road raising slogans against the state government and municipal corporation authorities.