Explained: Haldwani’s anti-encroachment drive, Why are 4,000 families protesting against HC’s order?

The residents claim that Railways have served eviction for 78 acres of land while the disputed region is limited to 29 acres only

Explained: Haldwani’s anti-encroachment drive, Why are 4,000 families protesting against HC’s order? -

A widescale protest has gripped the streets of Uttarakhand’s Haldwani by over 4000 families who are demonstrating to stop the eviction of their homes that is built on the lands of Railway. The central authority has served notice to the families creating massive panic among the households and steering a protest in the face of authorities since January 1st.

A long-run battle was subsumed with Uttarakhand’s High Court order which ordered the residents to vacate the illegally encroached land in 7 days, where they have been living for the last decade. Following this Railway handed the notice protesting which 4000 families are continuously on road ever since.

Besides houses, nearly half of the families protesting claim to have land leases, the area also has four government schools, 11 private schools, a bank, overhead water tanks, four temples, and 10 mosques, besides having shops that stand at the spot for over decades.

Reportedly, Nainital district officials were quoted as saying that the move will see a total of 4,365 encroachments being removed from the area, which was illegally built on the land that originally belonged to railways.

Here’s what has happened in Haldwani so far.

1. On December 20, the Uttarakhand High Court ordered the Railway and local authorities to remove encroachments after giving a week’s notice to the occupants over the railway land and asking them to vacate the land.

2. Adding further to its orders High Court said if the encroachers don’t vacate the land the authorities can go on for the forceful possession of the occupied land by the authorities, police, and if needed the paramilitary forces. The order further added that the authorities must look ahead to recovering costs from the encroachers who don’t vacate the land despite one week’s notice period.

3. People staying in the Banbhoolpura area have been asked to deposit their licensed weapons to the administration before the eviction drive begins.

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4. The residents collectively have filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s order, which is led by the Congress MLA from Haldwani, Sumit Hridayesh, the hearing for which is scheduled to take place today.

5. In a separate set of claims posed by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind says that the Railway has served an eviction notice to the people staying in the region in the 78 acres of land, while the disputed region is only limited to 29 acres of area. The statement further said the High Court’s order is going to cast an adverse effect on more than 50,000 people living in the area.

6. The opposition parties have launched full support to the residents of the region, while the politics are in full swing, "They have been living in the area for 70 years. There is a mosque, temple, overhead water tank, a PHC, a sewer line laid in 1970, two inter-colleges, and a primary school," Congress secretary Qazi Nizamuddin said on Monday.

While the matter is to be heard at the apex court today, media reports say that the process of demolition of small structures has already begun. The occupants have been given seven days’ time to vacate the premises or action will be taken by the authorities.

However, the residents have been staging the protest with claims that the land in which they live has been there for decades, Railways while proceeding were on in court said that none of the residents could prove the validity of their claim through the documents. Furthermore, the state government has also decided not to intervene in the matters of Railways.

Railway PRO of Izzat Nagar, Mr. Rajendra Singh while apprising media on the matter said, “The High Court judgment came to remove all encroachments on the railway land in Haldwani. There are 4,365 encroachments and we have served notice through local newspapers. The occupants will be given seven days’ time to shift; after that, we will take action.”

Nearly 50,000 residents will be left homeless if the High Court order is grounded. Thousands of residents also took out a candlelight march against the order of the court.

Amidst all these Railways has also conducted a drone survey which is planning to okay the demolition of the illegal encroachments on their land. The purpose of the drone survey was to demarcate the land, which is under the illegal possession of the Haldwani residents.