INDIA: Authorities demolish 100s of houses in Kathputali Colony, resulting in death of infant

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Hunger Alert Case: AHRC-HAC-004-2017

3 November 2017
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INDIA: Authorities demolish 100s of houses in Kathputali Colony, resulting in death of infant

ISSUES: Labour rights; land rights; poverty & adequate standard of living; right to food; right to redress; threats and intimidation; violence against women

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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Countercurrents and other media regarding the demolition of more than a thousand houses in Kathputali Colony in New Delhi. The demolition rendered thousands of people homeless just before the onset of winter. Also, the use of brutal force by the police during the demolition has severely injured many protesting residents and civil society activists. The AHRC urges the authorities to immediately intervene and rehabilitate the evicted persons, as well as take strict action against officials responsible for the brutalities.

CASE NARRATIVE:

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) served a notice of eviction on the residents of Kathputali Colony in Shadipur, New Delhi on 25 October 2017, and gave them five days to evict. Following this, on October 30, the DDA accompanied with a huge contingent of Delhi Police, descended on the colony and started the demolition drive in the early morning. They gave no time to residents of more than a 1000 houses to vacate their homes and collect whatever little valuables they had. The police also took recourse in a brutal baton charge and tear-gassing of residents protesting the demolition. The officials did not spare even the children, women and the elderly, who were also dragged, beaten up and assaulted.

The authorities demolished around 100 houses on day one, October 30, and returned again on October 31 and demolished the rest of the houses.

Horrifyingly, the authorities also blocked access to ambulances called for those seriously injured in the crackdown. Along with the residents, the injured included Annie Raja, the General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, who had rushed to the spot on getting information about the demolition drive and joined the residents in protesting. The authorities reacted very violently with her, beat her up with sticks and dragged her away, grievously injuring her in the process. She was then left on the road bleeding and injured, as the authorities did not allow the ambulances to reach the demolition site. Annie was finally taken to hospital in an auto-rickshaw, after hours of lying on the road.

The demolition drive also took the life on an infant. One-year-old Aryan, the son of Jitu and Pooja, died late in the evening of October 31. Their house was destroyed on October 30, and the family had spent the night out on the streets. Though the post-mortem will ascertain the cause of the death, residents believe it could have occurred either due to Aryan getting pneumonia from sleeping in the cold, or from the suffocation caused by the tear gas.

The demolition drive against Kathputali Colony, hosting renowned artists from across India for decades, is nothing new. The DDA, hand in glove with a private builder named Raheja Builders, have been trying to evict the residents since long for ‘developing’ the area. They attempted a similar demolition and eviction drive last year as well, but had to back off after protests by the residents. The residents had then approached the authorities, including the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi against the demolitions. The LG had then ordered a survey to look into tenancy rights, but the DDA only surveyed a few hundred households. It then proceeded to evict those it willed without any calls for objection.

The demolition and eviction drive flouts not merely the rights of the urban poor, but also repeated orders by the judiciary. The Delhi High Court has itself recognized the right of the urban poor repeatedly, for instance in Sudama Singh & Others v. Government of Delhi on 11 February 2010. It observed that

“This Court would like to emphasise that the context of the MPD, jhuggi dwellers are not to be treated as ‘secondary’ citizens [sic]. They are entitled to no less an access to basic survival needs as any other citizen. It is the State’s constitutional and statutory obligation to ensure that if the jhuggi dweller is forcibly evicted and relocated, such jhuggi dweller is not worse off. The relocation has to be a meaningful exercise consistent with the rights to life, livelihood and dignity of such jhuggi dweller. (Writ Petitions (Civil) Nos. 8904/2009, 7735/2007, 7317/2009 and 9246/2009)

In the same order, the High Court then brought in the Right to Life with Dignity, guaranteed to every Indian citizen by the constitution and added

“It cannot be expected that human beings in a jhuggi cluster will simply vanish if their homes are uprooted and their names effaced from government records. They are the citizens who help rest of the city to live a decent life, they deserve protection and the respect of the rights to life and dignity which the Constitution guarantees them.”

Evidentially, the DDA and Delhi Police have flouted the order in carrying out the drive.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the authorities listed below, demanding immediate intervention so that the evicted residents are promptly rehabilitated, and action is initiated against the officials responsible for the brutalities.

To support this case, please click here: 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

Authorities demolish 100s of houses in Kathputali Colony, resulting in death of infant

Identities of the Victims: Residents of Kathputali Colony

Identities of the Perpetrators: Officials of Delhi Development Authority and Delhi Police

Place & Time of Incident: Kathputali Colony, Shadipur, Delhi. Ongoing since 30 October 2017

I am writing to you with grave concern regarding the demolition drive in slums of Kathputali Colony in Shadipur, New Delhi by the Delhi Development Authority and the Delhi Police.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) served a notice of eviction on the residents of Kathputali Colony in Shadipur, New Delhi on 25 October 2017, and gave them five days to evict. Following this, on October 30, the DDA accompanied with a huge contingent of Delhi Police, descended on the colony and started the demolition drive in the early morning. They gave no time to residents of more than a 1000 houses to vacate their homes and collect whatever little valuables they had. The police also took recourse in a brutal baton charge and tear-gassing of residents protesting the demolition. The officials did not spare even the children, women and the elderly, who were also dragged, beaten up and assaulted.

The authorities demolished around 100 houses on day one, October 30, and returned again on October 31 and demolished the rest of the houses.

Horrifyingly, the authorities also blocked access to ambulances called for those seriously injured in the crackdown. Along with the residents, the injured included Annie Raja, the General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, who had rushed to the spot on getting information about the demolition drive and joined the residents in protesting. The authorities reacted very violently with her, beat her up with sticks and dragged her away, grievously injuring her in the process. She was then left on the road bleeding and injured, as the authorities did not allow the ambulances to reach the demolition site. Annie was finally taken to hospital in an auto-rickshaw, after hours of lying on the road.

The demolition drive also took the life on an infant. One-year-old Aryan, the son of Jitu and Pooja, died late in the evening of October 31. Their house was destroyed on October 30, and the family had spent the night out on the streets. Though the post-mortem will ascertain the cause of the death, residents believe it could have occurred either due to Aryan getting pneumonia from sleeping in the cold, or from the suffocation caused by the tear gas.

The demolition drive against Kathputali Colony, hosting renowned artists from across India for decades, is nothing new. The DDA, hand in glove with a private builder named Raheja Builders, have been trying to evict the residents since long for ‘developing’ the area. They attempted a similar demolition and eviction drive last year as well, but had to back off after protests by the residents. The residents had then approached the authorities, including the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi against the demolitions. The LG had then ordered a survey to look into tenancy rights, but the DDA only surveyed a few hundred households. It then proceeded to evict those it willed without any calls for objection.

The demolition and eviction drive flouts not merely the rights of the urban poor, but also repeated orders by the judiciary. The Delhi High Court has itself recognized the right of the urban poor repeatedly, for instance in Sudama Singh & Others v. Government of Delhi on 11 February 2010. It observed that

“This Court would like to emphasise that the context of the MPD, jhuggi dwellers are not to be treated as ‘secondary’ citizens [sic]. They are entitled to no less an access to basic survival needs as any other citizen. It is the State’s constitutional and statutory obligation to ensure that if the jhuggi dweller is forcibly evicted and relocated, such jhuggi dweller is not worse off. The relocation has to be a meaningful exercise consistent with the rights to life, livelihood and dignity of such jhuggi dweller. (Writ Petitions (Civil) Nos. 8904/2009, 7735/2007, 7317/2009 and 9246/2009)

In the same order, the High Court then brought in the Right to Life with Dignity, guaranteed to every Indian citizen by the constitution and added

“It cannot be expected that human beings in a jhuggi cluster will simply vanish if their homes are uprooted and their names effaced from government records. They are the citizens who help rest of the city to live a decent life, they deserve protection and the respect of the rights to life and dignity which the Constitution guarantees them.”

Evidentially, the DDA and Delhi Police have flouted the order in carrying out the drive.

I therefore urge you to ensure that

1. The demolition and eviction drive is immediately stopped;
2. Immediate arrangements are made to provide shelter for the families evicted, and their immediate needs for food, water, medicine, and clothing are met;
3. Adequate compensation is provided to them for all belongings and properties destroyed during the demolition and eviction drive;
4. The families are provided with enough financial and material assistance for their rehabilitation;
5. The officials responsible for using excessive force and injuring residents are identified and prosecuted;
6. The cause of death of 1-year-old Aryan is investigated and ascertained, and action taken against officials if they are found responsible;
6. No such demolition drives are taken in future without rehabilitation and relocation of the evacuees with their consent.

_______

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Shri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister
Government of India
Room No. 148 B, South block,
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 230116857; 23015603

2. Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2338 4863
E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in

3. Ms. Stuti Kacker
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
5th Floor, Chanderlok Building,36 Janpath,
New Delhi-110001
INDIA
Fax:+91 11-23724026
Email: 23731584

4. Sh. Anil Baijal
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi
Via Sh. Vijay Kumar
Pr. Secretary to LG
Block 6 Raj Niwas Marg, Civil Lines
New Delhi-110054
INDIA
Fax +91-11-23920225
Email :seclg@nic.in

5. Shri Arvind Kejriwal
Chief Minister of Delhi
3rd level, Delhi Secretariat
I.P. Estate
New Delhi-110002.
INDIA
Email: cmdelhi@nic.in

6. Registrar General
Delhi High Court,
Sher Shah Road
New Delhi – 110503
India
Email: rg.dhc@nic.in

Thank you

Hunger Alerts Programme
Right to Food Programme (foodjustice@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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