Haryana: The United Nations has termed India’s eviction of one lakh residents of Haryana’s Khori Gaon as an “abuse of power”, and requested for the act to be halted immediately.
On June 7, 2021, India’s Supreme Court directed for the removal of all encroachments on forest land. This was in response to Sarina Sarkar and Others v. State of Haryana and Others— a plea seeking a stay on the demolition of 10,000 houses that has been planned by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad.
A group of UN’s human experts remarked the situation as “unfortunate”, calling to New Delhi to immediately halt the eviction of around 1,00,000 people in Khori Gaon in Faridabad, including 20,000 children, rendering them homeless in the middle of the monsoon season. The UN insisted that it undermines the upholding law of a democratic state.
“We appeal to the Indian Government to respect its own laws and its own goals of eliminating homelessness by 2022 and to spare homes of 100,000 people who mostly come from minority and marginalized communities…It is important that residents be kept safe during the pandemic,” said experts including Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; and Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education.
They criticised the Supreme Court order, remarking that it is “extremely worrying” that India’s highest court which had previously led the protection of housing rights was now leading evictions and putting people on the risk of homelessness and displacement, as is the case in Khori Gaon.
🇮🇳 UN experts call on #India to halt evictions of some 100,000 people that began this week in midst of monsoon rains. India must urgently review its plans for razing #KhoriGaon & consider regularizing the settlement so as not to leave anyone homeless.
👉 https://t.co/RvoBRrCiMZ pic.twitter.com/btHeAeE10Z— UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) July 16, 2021
As India is a part of the Human Rights Council, experts have urged officials to ensure that all policies are compliant with the international human rights standards governing relocations, evictions, and internal displacement. Further, the UN experts have also said that even though the settlements are on forest land, that land has been destroyed by heavy mining decades ago.
In response, the Indian mission in Geneva said that it is “equally disrespectful” for the Special Rapporteurs to have made "disrespectful remarks" against India’s Supreme Court. “It is unfortunate that the Special Rapporteurs have chosen to issue a Press Release just two days after sending a joint communication to this Mission and not waiting for a response.
India is fully aware of its international human rights obligations and has undertaken all requisite steps towards full implementation of all its human rights obligations. India's commitment to promotion and protection of human rights, including through its membership of the Human Rights Council, is well established,” the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva and other International Organisations said in a statement....