Watch: Dharamshala’s ‘Smart City’ Woes

Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh: On June 17, the municipal corporation of Dharamshala, assisted by the local police and administration, forcefully evicted around 1,500 migrant workers living in the “slum” area of Charan Khad, near lower Dharamsala.

The reluctant inhabitants, some of whom have been occupying the land for over 30-35 years, mostly survive by working as daily wage labourers, ragpickers and masons, making Rs 500 on a good day.

There was resistance and protests from the residents, who formed human chains around their dwellings. But they were easily removed by the police, who outnumbered the residents. Meanwhile, workers from the municipal corporation and administration began pulling down the makeshift tents.

The inhabitants were offered no help at all, apart from providing trucks to drop them to villages a few kilometers outside of town, though most of them came from Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

The eviction order was implemented due to a recent judgment passed by the Shimla high court, asking the government to remove all settlements that were health hazards.

People from Charan Khad filed a petition in the Shimla high court to get a stay order on the eviction, which was eventually denied.

A fact-finding report by WSS (Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression) and the Delhi Forum, calling the eviction “inhuman”, stated, “The eviction also violates the guidelines laid down under international agreements to which India is a signatory.”  The report also added that the eviction was not “illegal”, since the area was not notified as a “slum” even though it should have been.