Uttarakhand: 4,365 families in Muslim locality to become homeless as HC orders demolition of ‘constructions in Railway land’

Hundreds of Muslim families in Uttarakhand have been protesting against the order of the Uttarakhand High Court which asked the authorities to evict the “unauthorized occupants” of the railway land adjacent to Haldwani Railway Station, known as Gaffur Basti- a Muslim dominated locality.

The Uttarakhand High Court last week ordered demolition of “constructions over encroached railway land at Banbhoolpura in Haldwani.” A division bench of justices Sharad Sharma and RC Khulbe directed that a week’s notice be given to the settlers after which the constructions should be demolished.

There are mosques, schools, business establishments and residences on an area spread over 29 acres of the railway land in Banbhoolpura. This order of the High Court will affect 4,300 families, mostly Muslims.

During the hearing in this case, it was said on behalf of the residents that their side was not heard from the railways, so they should also be given a chance to be heard. While the railways argued that the railways has issued notices to all the families under the PPACT. At the same time, the state government argued that this land does not belong to the state government, it is owned by the railways.

The demolition driver will “pounce on encroachers” in the midst of 7,000 police officers and 15 paramilitary groups, according to reports.

Meanwhile Muslim groups raised the concerns about the eviction.

Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind leaders who reached the demonstration site, extended support to the families.

In a letter to the Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Dr. Nayyar Kazmi, state president of the All India Majlis-e-Etihad ul Muslimeen, Uttarakhand (AIMIM), stated that over 4,500 families have lived here for more than seven decades and they have electricity connections, house taxes, Jal Sansthan connections, and other residential credentials.

“In order to spare thousands of families from being wrecked by this one-sided decision, the government should also bring the side of these aggrieved families before the High Court, so that they can be saved from being homeless,” he said in the letter.

Reports suggest that the Public Interest Litigation against the Muslim families was filed by Ravi Shankar Joshi, a sympathiser of Hindu militant group RSS in 2016.