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It`s like Eid: People celebrate SC stay on demolition of their homes at Haldwani

It`s like Eid: People celebrate SC stay on demolition of their homes at Haldwani

People facing demolition of their homes in Haldwani`s Banbhoolpura hugged and shared sweets Thursday when they heard that the Supreme Court has stayed an Uttarakhand High Court to remove encroachments from 29 acres of railway land.

The Supreme Court has sent notices to the state government and the Railways seeking their response to a bunch of petitions challenging the high court order. The next SC hearing is on February 7.

As the news came in, men, women and children sitting on a dharna in front of a mosque ended the protest and hugged each other. Local residents started preparing tea and distributed sweets and dates among the crowd.

Some waived the national flag in celebration. A bunch of children held up misspelled banners, saying, “Thank you, Supreme Court.”

“Our prayers have been answered. It is no less than the Eid celebration for us. We are grateful to the apex court as well as the media which showed the situation on the ground,” Vikki Khan said.

Ahmad Ali Noori recalled the agitation over the past days in bone-chilling weather. ¿The protest was not just about us, it was about the whole of Haldwani,” he said.

Also read: Supreme Court stays Haldwani eviction, says thousands cannot be `uprooted` overnight

“Everyone from Haldwani stood with us. No matter whether they were kids or elders, everyone stood with us. The whole world was watching Haldwani and the top court, and everyone was waiting for the court order,” he added.

The Uttarakhand High Court had on December 20 ordered removal of ¿encroachments¿ from land in Banbhoolpura area near the railway station after giving a one-week notice to residents to vacate the area.

The railway has identified over 4,000 families who it says have encroached on its land.

Noori said the Banbhoolpura residents had hoped the Supreme Court will give an order in their favour, but as of now it has stayed the high court order. “We are very happy with it,” he added.

“The Supreme Court does not belong to any religion or caste but it is for everyone and it gives justice to everyone,” he said.

Raisul Hasan too had hoped for an immediate ruling, but was happy that the high court directions have been put on hold. “We have got justice,” he said, claiming that his family has been living in the area since 1947.

Anothert resident, Rumi Warsi, claimed people have been in the area for more than 140 years.

“Even when there were only 3,000 families living in the whole of Haldwani, there were 800 houses from line number 1 to 17 in Banbhoolpura only,” he said.

Javed Siddiqui said, “The good thing about the Supreme Court order is that it gives us more time to prepare ourselves for fighting our battle more systematically.”

Local people claim that they have documents to prove that they are rightful owners of the land.

“There are two inter colleges, schools, hospitals, an overhead water tank, a sewer line laid in 1970, a mosque and temples in the area,” former Congress MLA from Manglaur and AICC secretary Qazi Nizamuddin earlier said.

Javed Ahmad said the order of the Supreme Court was a big relief to them.  “Last night we were not able to sleep. We spent the whole night just thinking what the verdict of the Supreme Court will be.”

“The court heard our pleas, reviewed our papers and issued notices to both the state government and the railways asking them how they can remove such a large population in just seven days,” he said.

He said the protest has now been “postponed” and they will go through what the court has ordered and then decide on the next step.

Observing that many of the occupants claimed they have been living in the area for over 50 years, the bench of Justice S K Kaul and Justice A S Oka said there is a “human angle” to the issue and the authorities have to find a “practical way out”.

“We do believe that a workable arrangement is necessary to segregate people who may have no rights on the land… coupled with schemes of rehabilitation which may already exist while recognising the need of the railways,” the bench said.

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