Muslims in the Indian state of Uttarakhand have taken to streets after a high court order to vacate 29 acres of railway land involving the demolition of over 4,000 houses of the minority community in Haldwani city.
As per the details, the district administration, following the court’s order of December 20 after prolonged litigation, has told people to take away their belongings by January 9.
The area covers a 2 km strip of land near the Haldwani railway station, which includes Muslim-majority Gafoor Basti, Dholak Basti and Indira Nagar in Banbhulpura area.
While nearly half of the families residing in the neighbourhoods claim to have 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.
Residents continue to protest, pray and beseech officials not to go ahead with the demolition that they claim is rooted in the right-wing extremist agenda flourishing under the Hindu hardliner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Blaming the BJP government for action against an area where most residents happen to be Muslim, activists and politicians have also joined the protests.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Harish Rawat held an hour-long vow of silence at his home in state capital Dehradun.
“Uttarakhand is a spiritual state,” he said, adding if 50,000 people, including children, pregnant women, old men and women, were forced to vacate their homes and come out on roads, it would be a very sad sight.
“The chief minister is the guardian of the state. My silent fast for an hour is dedicated to [Pushkar Singh Dhami],” he said.
While CM Dhami says his government will respect the decision of the Supreme Court that is due on Thursday, police and the civic administration say the high court’s order was applicable for now had to be followed.