'People cannot be uprooted using force': SC stays Uttarakhand HC's Haldwani demolition order

'People cannot be uprooted using force': SC stays Uttarakhand HC's Haldwani demolition order

In a big relief to over 4,000 families, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Uttarakhand to remove encroachments from 29 acres of railway land in Haldwani's Banbhoolpura area.

The top court said that large number of people cannot be uprooted by using force without examining rights of the occupants.According to local residents claim that the 78-acre area has including several elderly persons and pregnant women, as well as 15,000 children. Thousands of people who faced the prospect of being left homeless in the middle of the harsh North Indian winter won a major reprieve from the Supreme Court on Thursday as it paused an eviction drive on railway land in Uttarakhand's Haldwani.

"There cannot be uprooting of 50 thousand people overnight... It's a human issue, some workable solution needs to be found," the Supreme Court said, as it stopped an Uttarakhand High Court order that had cleared the eviction of nearly 50,000 people who live in some 4,000 homes after a case that went on for years.Referring to the suggestion by the high court of using force to evict the people, the Supreme Court said, "It may not be correct to say that paramilitary forces have to be deployed to remove people who have been living there for decades." The court also stopped any construction in the area and sought responses from the railways and the Uttarakhand government. It said the case will be heard again next month.

Supreme Court Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices SA Nazeer and PS Narasimha took up the case a day after activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan made a formal request. The order comes as a major relief for residents who have been holding candle marches, sit-ins and prayers to stop the eviction.The area covers a 2-km strip of land near the Haldwani railway station - Gafoor Basti, Dholak Basti and Indira Nagar, in Banbhulpura area.

Besides houses - nearly half of the families claim to have a land lease - the area even has four government schools, 11 private schools, a bank, two overhead water tanks, 10 mosques, and four temples, besides shops, built over decades.