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Friday, 1 February 2013

Forced Eviction without rehabilitation - police torture - illegal detention

Bruhat Bangalore
Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) brutally evicted over 5,000 slum dwellers by
demolishing 1,200 houses in Koramangala colony, Bangalore from 18 to 21
January 2013.



A police force consisting of around 500 police men and women, along with
BBMP officials and six bulldozers demolished 1,200 homes and tin sheds that
were built at the site more than 11 years ago. Over 5,000 people including
1,200 women and 2,000 children were affected by this action.



We are shocked to learn that the police used sticks to beat men and women
who resisted the evictions, and that even children and senior citizens were
not spared. Police arbitrarily detained seven residents (five women and two
men), and released them in the evening of that day, which proves a clear
case *illegal detention.*



We are concerned about reports of people who have not been able to find any
alternative place to stay being forced to spend days and nights out in the
open. The conditions of these people are abysmal, as they do not have any
shelter or access to basic services, including drinking water sanitation
and toilets. Students are not able to go to schools and colleges, and many
fear losing their livelihoods if they move away from Koramangala
neighborhood. The situation presents a grave humanitarian crisis, and the
health of the residents is at risk.



In the aftermath of the evictions, news on illnesses and even death has
already been reported. Rosemary (60) one of the thousands rendered homeless
by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s recent demolition drive at
Koramangala, died on 21 January after spending nearly three days out in the
open. Her daughter says the death was a direct consequence of the
demolition. “She had barely eaten anything in the last few days. All she
did was cry. The cold [out in the open] was unbearable. She was trembling
and was constantly complaining about the cold,” she said.



Even after a week of the demolition, BBMP has failed to provide temporary
rehabilitation for the affected persons. These actions are an infringement
of the fundamental rights of the residents of Koramangala as the government
has failed to abide by its constitutional obligations to guarantee the
“right to housing” and “right to life and livelihood” to its citizens.



*Violations of National and International Human Rights Law:*

The demolition in Koramangala is a blatant violation of the human right to
adequate housing. These forced evictions without adequate rehabilitation
violate the affected people’s fundamental right to life and livelihood as
enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Reaffirming the
principle of indivisibility of all human rights, the fundamental right to
life encompasses the right to live with human dignity. Furthermore, Article
14 of the Constitution of India guarantees equal protection under law.



Despite the fact that 99% of the urban housing shortage of 18.7 million in
India pertains to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low-Income
Groups (LIG), the government demolished houses in Koramangala without
providing alternative sites for rehabilitation. By failing to provide any
form of temporary/permanent housing for the poor who have been living in
Koramangala for more than 11 years, the evictions and the judgment of the
High Court of Karnataka apart from violating international and national law
also contradict the *National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy, 2007*,
which aims at providing “affordable housing for all” and promoting
sustainable development of habitat in the country with a view to ensuring
equitable supply of land, shelter and services.



The large-scale demolitions in Koramangala also contravene the provisions
of *Rajiv Awaas Yojana* and the *National Resettlement and Rehabilitation
Policy, 2007*. *Rajiv Awaas Yojana*aims at promoting in situ upgrading of
slums and providing security of tenure for slum dwellers. The *National
Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy, 2007 *seeks to protect the
interests of land owners and others, such as tenants, the landless,
agricultural and nonagricultural laborers, artisans, and others whose
livelihood depends on land which is sought for “developmental” activities.



By these evictions, the Indian authorities, including the local
authorities, have breached their treaty obligations under, *inter alia*,
Articles 2, 11, 12, 13 and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to which India acceded on 10 July
1979. The State has been derelict in its obligations, as elaborated in the
UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comments No. 4
on the right to adequate housing and No. 7 on forced evictions. The State
of India also has contravened its obligations under Articles 16, 27 and 39
of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which it acceded on
11 December 1992, and Article 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of
all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDaW), which it ratified on 9
July 1993.



The UN Commission on Human Rights (in 1993) recognized that forced
evictions constitute a “gross violation of human rights, in particular, the
right to adequate housing.” The *UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on
Development-based Evictions and Displacement* (2007) stipulate that
evictions must only be carried out in “exceptional circumstances” and in
accordance with international law and human rights standards. They present
operational guidelines for States to follow before, during and after
evictions. In Koramangala, the local government did not follow due process.
Officials did not provide any notice of the demolition to the slum
dwellers; neither was any consultation carried out with them. During the
eviction process, police officials brutally beat up, arrested and detained
those who resisted. The conduct of BBMP and the police in the Koramangala
eviction blatantly violates international law, standards and guidelines.



The Supreme Court of India, in several judgments, has held that the right
to adequate housing is a fundamental human right emanating from the right
to life protected by Article 21 of the Constitution (“No person shall be
deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure
established by law”). There have been several important court judgments
that have clearly established the relation between the right to housing and
the right to life as guaranteed by Article 21. In the case of *Chameli
Singh and Others *vs*. State of Uttar Pradesh* (1996),  the Court has given
a clear understanding of the right to life by stating that the “Right to
life guaranteed in any civilized society implies the right to food, water,
decent environment, education, medical care and shelter.”



The actions against the people of Koramangala constitute a violation of
their basic human rights to life, security, health, work, and adequate
housing; i.e., the right of all women, men and children to gain and sustain
a secure place to live in peace and dignity. The authorities have
especially violated people’s entitlements to security of tenure and freedom
from forced evictions; access to, and benefit from public goods and
services; information, capacity and capacity building; participation,
peaceful assembly and self-expression; rights to resettlement,
rehabilitation and adequate compensation (i.e., reparations) for violations
and losses; and physical security and privacy.



We are deeply concerned about the plight of the evicted families who are
currently on the streets without any adequate housing and nowhere to go. We
await your humane and timely intervention to restore the violated human
rights of the affected.



We urge you to respect India’s obligations under national and international
law to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the human right to adequate
housing by:

1.  Providing immediate and adequate rehabilitation, including housing,
water, food and security, to all evicted families at the same site or at
least in the same area, as per the *UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on
Development-based Evictions and Displacement;*

2.  Granting compensation to all victims for injuries caused to them and
for loss and damage to their personal property and possessions/ belongings;

3.  Conducting an independent investigation/ inquiry into the project and
the demolition;

4.  Taking action against those officials responsible for causing violence,
injury to residents and damage to property;

5.  Building adequate houses for all original allottees and current
residents at the same site;

6.  Implementing India’s national and international legal obligations and
upholding judgments of the Honourable Supreme Court of India.



Thank you in advance for your attention to this serious matter. We look
forward to hearing from you about your remedial actions.



Respectfully,

 --
Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax - +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in