Anger over the impending demolition of their homes boiled over in Haryana’s Khori village as residents and police personnel clashed on Wednesday morning, after people were stopped from holding a mahapanchayat in the village’s Ambedkar Park. This, even as Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced that families whose members are voters in Haryana will be relocated to vacant flats in the district.
Tension has been rife in Khori since the Supreme Court, on June 7, directed the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) to “take all essential measures to remove encroachments on the subject forest land without any exception”, giving the civic body six weeks to complete the task. The next hearing is scheduled for July 27. Thousands of residents of Khori village, many of whom have lived there for almost 20 years, say this will render them homeless.
At a press conference in Chandigarh, Khattar sought to address the concerns: “A survey has been done which found that 3,400 people in the village are voters in Haryana; these are around 1,400 families. For these 1,400 families, we have flats ready, their rates are also prescribed. Arrangements will be made so they can get loans easily from the banks.”
“For these 1,400 families we have broadly made arrangements. The other families are from Delhi, they are voters in Delhi, some may not be voters anywhere at all, they have come later,” he said, adding that the vacant flats being considered for relocation of 1,400 families are located in Dabua Colony in Faridabad.
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Residents of the village, however, said this wasn’t enough. “Some of us won’t even be included. Those who do not have identity proof or have identity proof from Delhi, where are they supposed to go?” said Ghanshyam, a resident.
As per a survey conducted by the MCF, 5,158 residential units are facing demolition in the village.
According to police, the clash on Wednesday broke out around noon, when residents attempted to hold a mahapanchayat at 11.30 am.
“When people began to gather near the park, we told them Section 144 had been imposed and they could not assemble. They began arguing with us and became aggressive. Some people started pelting stones at personnel; we had no choice but to use mild force to control the situation. We have detained six people; they are being produced in court,” said Sukhbir Singh, ACP (Badhkal).
The six include members of the Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (BSCEM). In a statement, BSCEM alleged its president Ravinder and activist Rajveer Kaur are among those detained.
“Police have blocked the path to Ambedkar Park in Khori Gaon where residents were to have a panchayat to discuss the demolition of their homes. Ravinder, Rajveer Kaur and several others have been brutally beaten, Ravinder’s turban was forcibly removed, the women were abused and assaulted by police officers,” alleged BSCEM.
A press note issued Wednesday evening “on behalf of all the solidarity groups” including Mazdoor Awas Sangharsh Samiti, Basti Suraksha Manch and National Alliance of People’s Movements reiterated these allegations.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni, who was stopped from entering the village, said, “They are telling one lakh people to leave from here. They are not even letting us talk to the residents, they are not letting us even go inside. Where people have been staying for 40-50 years, there is a population of one lakh, now you remove them and throw them on the road. Khattar should tell us, where should they go and stay?”
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