Haldwani ‘encroachment’ case: SC to hear pleas challenging Uttarakhand HC’s eviction notice

The Supreme Court will on Thursday hear a batch of petitions challenging the Uttarakhand High Court which authorized the “use of force” to evict over 4,000 families from land claimed by the Indian Railways in Haldwani, the The Indian Express reported.

Railways says 29 acres of land has been encroached upon in Haldwani and there are 4,365 encroachers on the land. There are religious places, schools, business establishments and residences on the alleged encroached railway land in Banbhulpura, Haldwani.

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Wednesday admitted petitions seeking urgent hearing on the matter after advocate Prashant Bhushan mentioned the matter.

The residents have stated in their petition that the High Court has gravely erred in passing the order knowing that the proceedings regarding the title of the residents, including the petitioners, are pending before the District Magistrate. The residents argued that the “arbitrary and illegal” approach adopted by the railway and state authorities, as well as the upholding by the High Court, resulted in gross violation of their right to shelter.

They also said that they have valid documents which clearly state that they are the legal occupants.

Meanwhile, political leaders have extended support to the protesters. A delegation of Samajwadi Party from Uttar Pradesh reached an area on Wednesday and extended its support. Former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat also held an hour-long silent protest against the encroachment at his Dehradun residence, reports PTI.

Meanwhile, Nainital District Magistrate DS Garbyal said that preparations are on to remove the encroachment, adding that the order has come from the High Court and it has to be followed.

Haldwani SDM Manish Kumar said the residents have been informed about the court order and the process to remove the encroachments is likely to start from January 10. India Reserve Battalion and eight companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary and 10 companies of Railway Protection Force will be deployed in Haldwani soon.

The Uttarakhand High Court had on December 20 ordered the demolition of constructions on encroached railway land in Haldwani and directed that a week’s notice be given, after which the demolition would begin.

On November 9, 2016, the High Court, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), had ordered the removal of encroachments from railway land within 10 weeks. The court had said that all encroachers should be brought under the Railway Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1971.

Central forces called in to control, State Intel issues alert in Haldwani

Banbhulpura town of Haldwani has protested against the Uttarakhand High Court’s admission decision after it was removed from 29 acres of railway land. Since eviction from the property will land 4,500 people, protesters and political parties are urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi and G Pushkar Singh Dhami to deal with the situation in a humane manner.

Responding to requests to rescind the order, the Haldwani district magistrate on Wednesday said the eviction drive has been carried out using force and the decision will not be reversed. “In the near future, we will start withdrawals. According to the Haldwani DJ, it is not being discussed at present.