Haryana, India: Over 1 Lakh Khori Villagers on the Brink of Losing Their Homes
On June 7, 2021, the Supreme Court of India directed the Haryana Government and Municipality of Faridabad (MCF) “to remove encroachments on the subject forest land [in Khori village] without any exception”.
The administration was given six weeks to demolish the houses of the residents of Khori Village, a colony of encroached settlements in the Aravalli forests. As per the court, the settlement in the Khori village is illegal as the land comes under forest authorities. Most of the land is occupied by migrant workers from across the country.
As per the residents, the land was sold to them by builders, they were duped by these builders with “fake documents”.
As per The Print report, Haryana police is looking into the matter and stated that the residents need to file a complaint officially.
According to the residents, the administration has demolished around 10,000 houses and over 1 lakh people are residing in Khori Village. Rubbishing the newspaper reports that stated that the administration has demolished 2,000 houses, one of the villagers said “they are lying in the newspaper, the administration has destroyed over 10,000 houses and not 2,000 as claimed by the media.”
The residents also claimed that around 100 people have been arrested by the Haryana police for protesting against the demolition.
Speaking with Habiba Akhtar, a resident of Khori gaon said that her husband Aslam Akhtar was picked up by the police when he protested against the demolition of his house. He was beaten up brutally before he was taken to the police station, Habiba is now waiting for the bail hearing.
Another resident Laxmi, who is in her late 60s got her eye operation done just a day before the demolition began, she wasn’t aware that her house will be demolished the next day.
She said that “I wouldn’t have got my eyes operated on had I known that my house will be demolished, it is better to remain blind than watching your house crumble into debris.”
Laxmi further stated that “I can’t even cry because of the operation, my heart is so heavy.”
Cursing the ruling regime she stated that “we voted for this govt, look what they did, what are they without us.”
Another resident Vineeta had been living in Khori village for the last 37 years. She said that every penny they earned went into building their house, but today they have nothing.
“I lost my house, my plants which I loved are now under the debris, where will I get another house? They are asking us to give them 4 lakh, how will we do it? My son lost his job due to Covid, we have nothing to eat, how will I survive?”
Another resident of Khori village Shakeel said that they have been living with their relatives, their house was demolished and they couldn’t do anything about it.
Shakeel said that BJP MLA Seema Trikha who represents Badkhal constituency in Faridabad hasn’t visited the village since the demolition started. She last visited to ask for votes.
International humanitarian organization United Nations has urged India to halt the eviction during the monsoon season.
“UN experts call on #India to halt evictions of some 100,000 people that began this week in the midst of monsoon rains. India must urgently review its plans for razing #KhoriGaon & consider regularizing the settlement so as not to leave anyone homeless." The United Nations tweeted.
India responded by saying that “it was unfortunate that the Special Rapporteurs had made "disrespectful remarks" against India's Supreme Court. "It is a worrying trend and an abuse of [their] position... which seriously damages [their] credibility.”
The residents of the village have nowhere to go, they have been promised rehabilitation but nothing is on paper. They are struggling for food and water, many NGOs are helping these villagers with basic essentials.
The villagers say that they won’t back down, the government has to help them either way.