D’sala slum demolition was inhuman, insensitive, irresponsible act and contempt of SC orders: Report
MCD violated of the Supreme Court ruling against evictions being carried out during the monsoons. Landmark Judgement in Bombay pavement dwellers case affirms the right to shelter as a part of the Constitutional right to life and livelihood. Labeling evicted community as “outsiders”, “dirty people”, “petty criminals” and “drug addicts” is unjustified, said report.
SHIMLA- Nearly a month after inhumane act of Charan Khad slum demolition by newly formed municipal corporation headed by first Mayor, Rajani, fact finding team has submitted its report National Human Rights Commission. Surprisingly, the Mayor saheb writes Women Rights Activist with her name, but protecting rights of slum women didn’t match her standards.
In response to disturbing information about the eviction of a long-standing slum settlement in Dharamshala, WSS (Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression) and Delhi Solidarity Group on 27-28 June 2016 carried out a fact-finding mission to investigate and ascertain if violations of law and human rights had taken place.
The team visited Dharamshala and met with the affected community, concerned officials and civil society activists in Dharamshala and Palampur. The report prepared by the team , which has been sent to the NHRC, condemns the eviction as
an inhuman, insensitive and irresponsible act.
The report points out that, as the local face of the state government, the municipal corporation and the district administration are legal duty-bearers who cannot sidestep their accountability for the welfare of citizens regardless of their economic or social status or their place of birth.
The report also points out that the authorities allowed 35 years to go by without notifying the area as a slum, and without making even token gestures towards improving the miserable living conditions. This suggests a deliberate attempt to render the residents invisible and deny their humanity while continuing to take advantage of their labour.
The fact-finding team finds reason to conclude that the decision to summarily “clean up” the Charan Khad area was taken to sidestep the comparatively humane provisions of the HP Slum Act (2005). The report also charges the MCD with violation of the Supreme Court ruling against evictions being carried out during the monsoons. This ruling in the Bombay pavement dwellers case is a landmark judgement affirms the right to shelter as a part of the Constitutional right to life and livelihood. The eviction also violates the guidelines laid down under international agreements to which India is a signatory.
The report has come down hard on the stigmatisation and labelling of the evicted community as “outsiders”, “dirty people”, “petty criminals” and “drug addicts” is unjustified. It points out that the Charan Khad residents are working people who have been providing their labour to the city, without any form of social or economic security. The fact-finding team has strongly condemned the prejudice and contempt displayed by some officials in their dealings with the evictees.
These individuals seem to have forgotten that, as public servants, they are duty bound to stand aside from social prejudice at least while acting in their official capacity
says the report.The fact finding team examined various public documents and has raised serious questions about the mode of functioning of the newly-formed Municipal Corporation of Dharamsala, which has scored an early success in getting funding under the Smart City Mission. The report points out that the Smart City proposal was submitted and cleared almost immediately after the formation of the corporation, suggesting a hurried process based on weak data and an incomplete understanding of the needs and priorities of various segments of the population. The report calls on the authorities to provide immediate relief and redress to the evictees in rebuilding their lives.
Credits: Video and Editing: Sumit Mahar, Himdhara Collective
Meanhwile, the affected people have formed a Charan Khad Basti Punarwas Samiti to dialogue with the administration on the rehabilitation. Close to 20 members of the Samiti met the DC and Joint Commissioner, MC Dharamsala to submit a memorandum asking to initiate proceedings of allotment of housing for the displaced. “The DC has directed the JC, MCD to examine the matter and both have assured some action. We will meet them next week to follow up”, said Nazuki Devi of Charan Khad Basti Punarwas Samiti.
The entire incident suggests what Himachal’s present government think of poorest section of our society. It is noticeable that opposition BJP remained completely silent on this inhumane and illegal act, thus, share the same opinion on poverty stricken people as the ruling Congress party. Also, the residents of Dharamsala must reflect on their role in rendering 1,500 poor people including infants, kids, elderly, pregnant women, and school going children.