Harish Rawat welcomes SC order on Haldwani, ‘Judgment to protect human rights’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Harish Rawat welcomes SC order on Haldwani, ‘Judgment to protect human rights’

By, New Delhi
Jan 05, 2023 04:41 PM IST

Hearing a petition against the planned anti-encroachment drive directed to the state authorities by the Uttarakhand high court earlier, the Supreme Court bench said that 50,000 people cannot be “uprooted overnight” and that a methodology needs to be found out to address the issue.

Congress veteran and former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to stay the Haldwani eviction saying that it will “protect human rights”. The apex court stayed the eviction order issued earlier by the Uttarakhand high court directing state authorities to remove all encroachments from railway land in Haldwani's Banbhoolpura region.

Congress leader and ex-Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat. (PTI)
Congress leader and ex-Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat. (PTI)

“[The] judgment of SC will protect human rights. We all were worried about demolition rendering 52,000 people homeless. SC stayed the demolition. In 2016, we took steps regarding the rehabilitation of the people,” Rawat was quoted as saying by ANI.

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A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka of the top court issued notices to the Indian Railways and Uttarakhand government on the pleas.

During the hearing this morning, the SC bench said that a methodology needs to be found out, adding “there cannot be uprooting of 50,000 people overnight”.

“What is troubling us is how you deal with a situation where people bought the land in the auction and took possession after 1947 and acquired title. You (Railways) may acquire the land but what to do now? People [have been] living [there] for 60-70 years, some rehabilitation has to be done. There must be a culmination to the issue, and we do not encourage what is going on,” the bench said.

Arguing during the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the Railways told the top court the strip of land belongs to it and added that the Kathgodam Railway Station does not have any space at the moment for expansion due to 4,365 “unauthorised occupants”.

“But there are people for whom a human angle needs to be considered. Someone will have to examine their documents,” the bench said.

The SC posted the matter for further hearing on February 7.

The Uttarakhand HC had ordered an anti-encroachment drive in an order on December 20, and it was supposed to take effect from January 10 onwards. Residents of the Banbhoolpura area have been protesting against the order for some time now, with the stir getting support from many opposition parties such as the Congress, AIMIM and the Samajwadi Party (SP). It also became a latest conflict between the ruling BJP in Uttarakhand and the opposition camp.

On Wednesday, Rawat held a one-hour silent stir at his home in Dehradun against the planned removal of encroachments.

Led by Congress MLA from Haldwani, Sumit Hridayesh, residents of the area approached the apex court on Monday challenging the HC's decision. The petition highlighted that the names of the residents are present in the municipal tax register records and that they have been paying house tax regularly for years.

The SC order brough relief to over 50,000 residents across 4,365 households. There is also one hospital, two overhead water tanks and five government schools in the area.

Reacting to the order, Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, meanwhile, said that the state government will follow the top court's order.

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