How Khori Gaon Residents, Now Facing Eviction, Were Forgotten During the Pandemic

Having been at the margin of urban development, these residents have lived with multiple vulnerabilities for years. Then came the pandemic.

By Ishita Chatterjee, The Wire

Khori Gaon during happier days, in 2017. Photo: Ishita Chatterjee

Read the entire article at The Wire.

Excerpt:

The recent demolition notice was given for June 9, when nationwide COVID-19 cases were still high at 92,596.

As residents and activists protested on the streets, Section 144 was issued by the state to thwart grassroots mobilisation. A few of the resident leaders and an activist was also arrested. In the following days, Khori Gaon’s access to water and electricity has been cut off. Barriers have been installed at the edges of the basti to restrict movement. Additionally, phone network towers within the basti have also been demolished to disrupt communication between the residents and the outside world. 

These steps taken by the state is in direct violation of the COVID-19 Guidance Note announced by the United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Leilani Farha, in April 2020.

Here, Khori Gaon residents have no access to water even to wash their hands during the middle of a pandemic. Instead of providing relief to the impoverished, the state is going to render 100,000 homeless. Evictions during a pandemic are not only inconsistent with the ‘stay home’ policy but forced evictions are a violation of international human rights law, including the right to housing.

The treatment extended to the residents is also contradictory to the Kant Enclave violators who were provided compensation and the high-end developments beside Khori Gaon, whose existence has not been questioned

The state’s discriminatory practices highlight the unequal citizenship experienced by the poor. The middle class and elites more often support their exclusion, producing and maintaining the inequalities. The houses the basti dwellers live in are often their only asset.

Evictions not only render them homeless but takes away their power to negotiate and engage politically. The Khori Gaon eviction must be stopped.