How Bulldozers Dehumanise The Urban Poor

Khori Gaon’s ruthless forced eviction showed us a glimpse of bulldozer politics. It legitimised treating the urban poor and minorities inhumanely.  

By Ishita Chatterjee, Outlook India

Police lathicharge on villagers during a clash, at Khori village in Faridabad, PTI

Read the entire article at Outlook India


Chilling videos of police brutality, news of incarceration of community leaders and activists, the humiliation of women and children, and obstruction of media coverage should have been enough to stop the demolition and hold the State accountable for human rights violations, but that was not the case. Instead, the courts continued to treat the community with contempt. Even after the hardships faced by the residents after the forced eviction and the health risks to the community were pointed out, the judiciary’s response has been anti-poor and showed a complete disregard for human rights. 

While the justifications given for the demolitions in the past year have ranged from forest conservation to ‘slum’ cleansing to collective punishment, there is a common thread across all—bulldozers have become weapons of urban cleansing. And the patterns of criminalisation, dehumanisation and degradation of human rights that followed during the Khori Gaon’s demolition are repeating.  

At this juncture, we have surpassed the mild forms of dehumanisation characterised by socio-political and economic marginalisation in India. Irreparable harm has been done connected to the housing rights of informal settlement-dwellers and the rights of the ethnic minorities. Violence, lack of due process and bigotry have become normalised. It is not surprising that the state tried to change the law it used to demolish Khori Gaon once the high-end developments were under the threat of eviction from the Supreme Court’s order.