Dalits in Howrah

What is affected
Housing private
Land Private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 14 January 2009
Region A [ Asia ]
Country India
Location Belgachia Bhagar, Howrah, West Bengal

Affected persons

Total 5000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Forced eviction
Housing losses
- Number of homes
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative

More than 5,000 Dalits and poor people forced from Howrah’s slums by Nirmala Carvalho 01/14/2009 Residents lived in the shanty town for five generations, surviving by scavenging recyclable materials from a local dump and taking odd jobs. Now a court has decided to clear the area without giving them a hearing. A human rights group slams the decision. Kolkata (AsiaNews) – More than 5,000 people, mostly Dalits, were forced from their shacks in Belgachia Bhagar, an area in the city of Howrah, West Bengal, where they have lived for nearly a century. In fact entire families inhabited the area for five generations. Most residents have odd jobs; about 80 per cent scavenge in the nearby municipal dump salvaging recyclable materials (pictured); others are rickshaw drivers; some are daily labourers. But since 2002 a court order to evacuate the area has been hanging over their heads, until yesterday that is, when they were told that they had to move today. Kirity Roy, secretary of the human rights group Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), appeared before the High Court today along with a number of forcibly removed women in order to get an injunction to suspend the evacuation order. “But the hearing was set for this Friday, when the whole settlement will have been raised to the ground,” he said. The settlement is “illegal” according to Khalil Ahmed, a Howrah magistrate. “We asked the squatters to vacate the area. If they do not do it, we shall have to use force. The district administration will film tomorrow’s operations to see who tries to obstruct the action.” “This way more than 5,000 people will be made homeless; the bulldozers will demolish their homes,” Kirity Roy told AsiaNews. “It’s a gross violation of the fundamental rights of the most neglected among our citizens.” “These people have been here for a century,” he explained. “They are Indian citizens with regular papers; some 650 families in all, but the all got the eviction notice just two days ago through a loud speaker. No one informed them beforehand” of the court decision. and this despite the fact that “the case has been pending for six years, since 2002.” For the human rights activist “no one can be forced out of the house he owns without a hearing, but these 5,000 people were not even considered a party to the court case. They are Dalits and poor and are forced out in wintertime to an uncertain future . . . . No one is saying where they can go.” The authorities have said that public facilities will be built on the vacated land, but Kirity is bitter. “On 3 February 2003, 7,000 people were forced from Belilious Park, also in Howrah, all of them Dalits and poor, by order of the Kolkata High Court. Now there is a building where the shanty town used to be, with many stores. A multinational corporation made a buddle from the deal.” <http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=14215&size=A>

Costs €   0