Uttarakhand: Haldwani residents welcome SC stay on demolition with sigh of relief

New Delhi, January 06, 2023 (PPI-OT):The distressed and agitated residents of Haldwani in Indian state of Uttarakhand heaved a huge sigh of relief after the Supreme Court stayed the state high court’s order to demolish over 4,000 homes, mostly belonging to Muslims. “We welcome the Supreme Court’s directive. Now hundreds of infants, women and men will not have to sit outside in this freezing cold. We have not been eating and sleeping for days. This is a moment of great relief,” said Huma Naaz, a Banbhoolpura resident of the city, soon after the Supreme Court’s decision.

The apex court has also sent notices to the state government and the Railways seeking their responses to the several petitions challenging the high court order. “Supreme Court’s stay is a good step towards maintaining the trust of people in democracy and judiciary. We are glad that not everyone is a government stooge,” said Mohammad Malik whose three generations have been inhabitants of the area.

“As we have already said, the documents are enough evidence that this land belongs to the residents of Banbhoolpura only and the Supreme Court must have taken them into consideration to order a stay,” said Azhar Siddiqui. Shama Parveen, another resident, said: “I am very sure that the final decision of the Supreme Court will be in our favour and it will be a permanent relief for us.” “This is a result of our continuous prayers beseeching Almighty Allah for mercy,” she added.

Sharafat Ali Khan, one of the petitioners in the case, told media: “A lot of people were very distressed, they were crying and praying day in and day out, their prayers have been answered and the Supreme Court played its role of being Supreme”. “This is a sigh of relief, now we look forward to a permanent relief and I am sure the court will play its part,” Khan said.

In its order, the top court said that there needs to be clarity on whether complete land belongs to Railways or it belongs to the state. It also commented that “50,000 people cannot be evicted overnight.” The order was issued by a two-judge bench comprising Justice S.K. Kaul and Abhay S. Oka. They have also asked the Railways and the state government to find a “practical solution” to the issue.

“Human angle needs to be considered and rehabilitation needs to be done before taking any such action that evicts thousands of people,” the court observed. The next Supreme Court hearing is on February 7.

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