Residents protest court order to vacate over 4,000 houses in Muslim area in Uttarakhand

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Hundreds of residents in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani held massive protests after the High Court directed the removal of 4,000 houses in a Muslim area of the city. The court order gave residents of Gafoor Basti a week’s time to vacate.

Several people took to social media to express their anguish and protest against the court’s directive to demolish the houses which have been there for decades.

A social media user Umair Siddiqui wrote that around 50,000 people are being rendered homeless.

“In Haldwani, thousands of families are being destroyed in the name of removing the encroachment at the railway land. In the incident, 50,000 people will be made homeless,” he said.

Hazrat Salman Miya, vice president of Jamaat Raza-e-Mustafa, will be visiting the area, he said.

On Thursday, residents took out candle marches against the decision to remove their homes, Siddiqui said sharing a video of the event wherein a massive crowd was present.

Two days ago, residents held massive demonstrations. The protesters were carrying placards which read: “Tell us what would be our future”, “Tell us why we are being discriminated against ”. Women also participated in the protest in large numbers.

Another social media user, Uzair Ahmad, said a meeting was held in New Delhi with the leaders of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind and some Supreme Court advocates. They all expressed solidarity with the protesters.

Congress leader and leading advocate, Aarfa Khanam, from Delhi also went live on Facebook to talk about the issue. She alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state is targeting the area because most of the residents are Muslims.

“We respect the judiciary. But what kind of justice is this that you make fifty thousand people homeless but you didn’t make any arrangements for their rehabilitation,” said Khanam.

In 2016, the court had ordered demolition of all houses, but the residents pleaded before the court that the railways should have heard them before issuing the eviction notice arbitrarily. After hearing all the parties, the court now directed the railways to start the process of removing all 4,365 illegal slums from its land. A division bench of Justices Sharad Sharma and R.C. Khulbe, after completing the hearing in the matter on November 1, reserved the verdict, which was pronounced on December 20.

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