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Khori Gaon is located at the border of Delhi and Haryana. On June 7, 2021, the Supreme Court gave orders to demolish the settlement in the middle of a pandemic and demolitions started on July 14. By August 17, Khori Gaon was razed to the ground, and the residents were left to fend for themselves. This blog chronicles Khori Gaon’s story of development, demolition and fight for rehabilitation.
The blog is structured as –
Khori Updates: This section contains day-to-day updates shared by team Saathi with the community.
Court Case: This section has two sub-categories. 1) Court Orders: An archive of all important court orders from June 7, 2021, when the Supreme Court ordered demolishing Khori Gaon. 2) Legal News: Legal developments about Khori Gaon and forest land in Haryana, written and edited by the team of lawyers and journalists at LiveLaw.in, have been re-published in this section.
Rehabilitation: The different sections within this category are – 1) Policy and implementation: It includes all information related to the rehabilitation policy formulation, complaints and recommendations submitted by experts and the residents, and the implementation process. 2) Everyday Life: This section provides a peek into the lived experience of the residents, how the demolition has transformed their lives, their struggles, resilience and community mobilisation.
Letters: An archive of all letters sent by residents and civil society to the state and other government agencies from June 7, 2021.
Press Notes: Selected press notes shared with the public.
Social Media: Social media became a critical space to document what was happening in Khori Gaon. This section contains posts by the state agencies engaged in peddling lies and those by the civil society, journalists, academics, activists, and community members highlighting the plight of the residents and countering the twisted narratives.
History: This section is divided into two sub-categories. 1) Development: This tells the story of Khori Gaon’s growth and legal history. 2) Demolition: This section provides information about the brutal evictions after the Supreme Court’s order.
Photo credits (slideshow):
Image 1: Snazzy maps; Image 2: Google photos uploaded by Sahil Mahrotea; Images 3,4 & 5: Ishita Chatterjee; Image 6: Naomi Barton; Images 7 & 8: Vishakha Chaman; Images 9 to 17: Team Saathi
Homeless, Starving and Nowhere to Go: Forced Eviction of Khori Gaon in the Middle of a Pandemic and Monsoon
A public hearing was held on July 17, 2021, organised by Concerned Citizens for Khori Gaon & National Alliance of People’s Movements to hear the testimonies of residents about the years of injustice, fraud, ill-treatment and human rights abuses now climaxed with the brutal demolition of Khori Gaon.
Report of the Public Hearing held on July 17, 2021, organized by Concerned Citizens for Khori Gaon and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
Amita Bhide, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Science
Anjali Bhardwaj, National Convenor, NAPM
Ashish Kothari, Environmentalist, Pune
Bittu K.R., Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Dr Claude Alvares, Director, Goa Foundation
The Supreme Court has concluded that this basti is an encroachment on the Aravalli forest land and so deemed it fit to order the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad to undertake evictions using force if needed and not to use the Covid pandemic as an excuse to delay the demolitions. Demolitions have been going on continuously since July 14. The monsoon has arrived, and we are still in a pandemic where most of the population is not vaccinated. Haryana was under partial lockdown till June 21, 2021. Thus we have all the ingredients of a huge human rights disaster, one that could easily be averted.
The report provides the historical context of the settlement, details about the legal cases and the Supreme Court’s orders, a description of the multiple demolitions that have taken place, their impact on the settlement’s residents and the human rights violations that have emerged. The panel members who heard the testimonies about Khori Gaon were of the view that this is a human rights disaster of massive proportions, hence entirely unacceptable, mainly due to the brutal manner in which the demolitions were carried out.
The panel’s main recommendations were that
- The cruelty and violence with which the forced eviction and demolition is being conducted be halted immediately.
- Adequate compensation should be provided for all losses, deaths and injuries.
- Before resorting to further eviction/demolition, a survey must record the number of families and their family members, provide temporary accommodation to those whose houses were destroyed, and provide documentation to all regarding rehabilitation within a given time frame.
- The rehabilitation plan should keep in mind the basic human facilities of water, electricity, sanitation, access to health care, education and transport.
- All evictees and residents should be enrolled in welfare schemes and policies for the vulnerable groups.
- There should be a complete moratorium on evictions and demolitions during the pandemic.
- The other high-end developments like hotels and farmhouses on PLPA land should be treated the same way as Khori Gaon; they should be demolished simultaneously. If the high-end developments are not considered encroachers, then the urban poor’s settlement should also not be destroyed; instead, Khori Gaon should be allowed to exist in its current location.
Watch the public hearing video here