UN human rights experts call on India to halt evictions in Faridabad’s Khori
Experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday called on India to halt the eviction of around 100,000 people from Khori village in Faridabad, which began this Wednesday, and said “it is particularly important that residents be kept safe during the pandemic”.
A statement released by six special rapporteurs, who are a part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, said, “We appeal to the Indian government to respect its own laws and its own goal of eliminating homelessness by 2022 and to spare the homes of 100,000 people who mostly come from minority and marginalised communities...It is particularly important that residents be kept safe during the pandemic.”
The Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) started demolishing the village houses in pursuance of a June 7 Supreme Court order, which directed authorities to clear within six weeks encroachments from Aravalli forest land designated as a protected forest in 1992. The court is scheduled to hear the matter on July 19, when the MCF has to file a compliance report.
The rapporteurs said the ongoing demolition and eviction, in the midst of the monsoon rain, would put at greater risk residents who have already been severely hit by the pandemic.
The matter reached the UN Human Rights after a group of social activists and researchers, working for the rehabilitation of Khori residents, on June 30 reached out to Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, highlighting the villagers’ plight.
The experts said, “The lockdowns imposed during the pandemic have made it difficult for settlement residents to earn a living, and they are suffering psychologically because of the eviction threat...”
Rajagopal, who is one of the six special rapporteurs, on Friday tweeted about the demolition drive at Khori and said, “2,000 families left homeless in 2 days! Who will address this humanitarian crisis?”
Yashpal Yadav, Faridabad deputy commissioner, did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Mohammed Saleem, a member of Mazdoor Awas Sangharsh Samiti of Khori Gaon, whose house was demolished on Friday, said, “These strong words will help rejuvenate our struggle for rehabilitation. The MCF must ensure basic human rights to Khori Gaon residents.They should be given food and shelter at camps as soon as possible.”