More than a dozen Dalit families in Dehradun’s Tarla Aamwala have been evicted by the Dehradun Municipal Corporation (DMC) in July 2022. The residents of the affected settlement, situated next to a Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) apartment complex, claim that the President of the Residents’ Welfare Association managing the complex took lakhs of rupees from them in lieu of allotting formal land titles (pattas). An oral agreement was made for the same, and most of these residents managed to build tin-shed houses on the said land. The allotment, however, never materialised.
Some residents claim that the harassment began when they were unable to pay the full amount. They also believe the eviction and demolition to be an extension of this harassment. Earlier, a written complaint was also submitted to the mayor, where residents alleged wrongful restraint, casteist slurs, and abatement to suicide. The protesters have alleged a lack of due process and deceit, and claim that the municipal authorities gave them no prior notice before the demolition began. They are demanding a stop to demolition or rehabilitation of the evictees in the affected area.
Tara Devi, a resident who works as domestic help, alleged that they bought their land from the same person and had no idea that the land belonged to DMC. They had paid around three lakhs in instalments for the land, and Rs. 50,000 was remaining. Earlier, they used to live in slums but later spent their life’s savings on buying the land and building a tin-shed house. Now, many say they have nowhere to go.
Some residents claimed they had even taken loans for the land, which remain to be paid. Reports have also claimed that some apartments allotted to the beneficiaries of the welfare scheme PMAY have been sublet illegally.
Ashok Kumar, a daily wage labourer, living in the affected area since 2015, told LCW that almost all houses in the area were bulldozed without prior notice by the DMC on 11th July. “They came with bulldozers; two large and one small machine. Everything was destroyed, our ration, beds, everything; they didn’t even give us the time to remove the tin roof of our house.” He was unaware of any complaints made against them by any particular individual. Kumar and other affected people are also disappointed with local leaders and organisations. “Nobody showed up. Nobody has offered any help. It’s monsoon season, and our children and many others have fallen sick because they were drenched in the rain. Visit us, and you will see tears in every eye”, he added.
Vinay Pratap Singh, Tax Superintendent at DMC, told LCW that the demolition drive was not being conducted based on any complaints but was a part of the DMC’s drive to clear its land from encroachment. He confirmed that around 20-25 houses had been demolished in the area, as of July 13, 2022. When asked whether prior notice was given to evictees or not, he did not give a clear answer but said that the land belonged to DMC. He also shared that announcements were made in the area a few days before eviction. Congress Councillor Dr Bijendra Pal Singh said that the eviction happened because the land belonged to the DMC. However, the case should be investigated, and a formal complaint should be lodged against the person who has been accused of selling DMC land.
This is not the first time that apprehensions over eviction have been raised. Earlier in 2020, the residents of Tarla Aamwala, accompanied by Congress leaders, protested against such eviction drives at the DMC office. However, the DMC officials had dismissed the news of eviction back then.
This article is taken and republished from the Land Conflict watch