Homeless for 8 days, Dharamsala slum dwellers hold protest march seeking shelter
DHARAMSALA- Today, about 200 people of demolished ‘Charan khad slum’ held a protest march against the forceful eviction of over 800 people from Dharamsala by MCD (Municipal Corporation Dharamsala) and for their right to housing/shelter. After demolition of their slum, villagers also chased away them from panchayat areas suggested by district admin. The displaced people marched from the Shahid Marg park to the Municipal Corporation office, Dharamshala, raising slogans like ‘Garibo ko Ujadna Bandh Karo’, ‘Charan Khad Visthapiton ka Punarwas Karo’.
After carrying out the protest demonstration at the MCD, where the Joint Commissioner was absent, the rally went to the DC office with a memorandum demanding immediate access to shelter and long term rehabilitation. Eight members who included representatives of the community and social activists met the DC, Ritesh Chauhan.
Representatives told the DC that the MCD provided no rehabilitation and just dumped the occupants across villages, forests and roadsides around Dharamsala. Some people sat on common lands, some on land rented by locals and others rented out rooms while many were left to streets hungry – children, pregnant women, old, and disabled are spending nights in rain. In many places locals shunted out the occupants and threatened to burn their belongings.
The situation got aggravated after the MCD issued a press note on 21st June stating that anyone who provided accommodation to dwellers would be liable for action by the MCD and that they would evict the occupants under section 278 of the HP Municipal Act. Following this, people were thrown out of the rented accommodations also. They now have nowhere to go – most of these slum children are studying in government schools in Dharamsala.
The DC assured that he would dialogue with the MCD officials and look into the provisions of allotting houses to these homeless people under different schemes. The community will meet the DC again on Monday to follow up on the matter.
After submitting the memorandum to DC, Akshay Jasrotia, ex Zila Parishad member, and an activist raised the issue that these were homeless people dependent on daily wage labour, street vending and rag picking with a hand to mouth existence. Evicting them from their shelter in peak monsoon season will pose a high risk to their lives; this is a violation of Article 21 of constitution of the Right to Life, Right to Shelter and Right to Dignity. It is the responsibility of the state to make arrangements for immediate resettlement and rehabilitation of the residents of Charan Khad slum.