India: community based defenders beaten and arrested, media workers harassed during house demolitionEvent
- Initial Date
- Jul 15, 2021
- Event Description
Day 2 of the demolition drive in Faridabad’s Khori village was marked by confrontation between residents and police, with nine people being taken into preventive custody for allegedly making “provocative speeches” during a protest Thursday.
According to police, the incident took place around 8.30 am. An FIR has been registered based on a complaint submitted by a police officer who was at the spot. “Around 100-125 men and women gathered there and started staging a demonstration and shouting slogans against the administration. Three-four men and four-five women also started provoking the crowd by making provocative speeches,” alleges the complainant.
The complaint said additional police force was called and those making “provocative” speeches were taken into custody. Speaking to The Indian Express, DCP (NIT) Anshu Singla said, “We took nine people into preventive custody from Khori village this morning.”
Residents in the village, however, alleged police lathi-charged them before the demolition began. In a statement, National Alliance of People’s Movements reiterated these allegations: “Today morning, on July 15, police resorted to violence against Khori residents who protested peacefully on the streets of Khori Gaon.”
In a video purportedly from Khori village that has been circulating online, a person in plainclothes can be seen slapping and pushing a man, believed to be a resident of the village, until the latter hits a brick wall and falls. The person can then be seen helping the man get up, joined by two other persons — one wearing riot gear — and leading him away from the spot.
DCP Singla said: “There is a video that is circulating but it is impossible to comment on the nature of the video, when it is, who are the people, whether it is doctored, not doctored. However, if we receive any formal complaint, we will certainly enquire into it and deal with the matter according to law.”
On allegations of lathicharge, Singla said: “The demolition took place peacefully to my knowledge, I don’t know what is being alleged but there was no lathi charge done by Faridabad Police.”
Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad, Garima Mittal, also said: “The demolition proceeded smoothly and peacefully today. There was no violence.”
The demolition comes after the Supreme Court on June 7 had directed the MCF to clear all encroachments on “subject forest land” in Khori village in six weeks. The civic body had finally started the work on Wednesday morning.
Although a rehabilitation policy was released by the MCF earlier this week for relocation of residents, wherein they will be allotted flats in Dabua Colony and Bapu Nagar, only those people are eligible for it who have an annual income up to Rs 3 lakh and meet one of three conditions – the name of the head of the family is on the voter list of the Badkhal assembly constituency as of January 1, 2021; the head of the family has an identity card issued by the Government of Haryana as of January 1, 2021; or any family member has an electricity connection issued by the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam (DHBVN).
“We have set up a camp near Khori village where residents can sign up for the rehabilitation scheme. However, it has only been a day, we are still waiting for applications,” said the MCF Commissioner.
Residents said the rehabilitation policy is unfair since it will not cover several people who have documentation from Delhi and not Haryana. Those eligible like Shipali Das (35), who works as a domestic help and is a single mother to a teenage daughter, are not aware of the policy at all.
“I have a Parivar Pehchan Patra from Haryana, but I have not heard of any rehabilitation scheme, nobody has told me anything about it,” said Das.
The demolition of her home, she said, will undo all the progress she has made since her husband abandoned the family several years ago: “I paid Rs 1 lakh just to purchase this land; I did the labour myself and built a house on it at a cost of Rs 2.5 lakh. Now all of that is going to be taken from me in a single day… I have nobody else to depend on… I do not know where we will go if our home is demolished. I am still hoping for a miracle.”
On July 15, police again repeatedly told Pal to stop filming at a protest site in the village, she told CPJ. A police officer attempted to block her camera as she filmed, as seen in a video she posted to Twitter that day.
Also that day, police forced Mohit Kumar, a Newsclick camera operator, to leave a crowd of protesters and move to another location, placed a baton between his feet to stop him from moving, and threatened him, saying, “we can do anything to you,” according to Kumar, who also spoke to CPJ. Police then told him to leave the area, and he complied, Kumar said.
Multiple police officers also threatened to break and confiscate Kumar’s camera and delete its footage on July 15, according to Pal and Kumar, who both said that they carried their press identification cards and repeatedly identified themselves as members of the press to police.
Also that day, two police officers armed with batons approached Hrishikesh Sharma, a reporter at the YouTube-based news channel Mojo Story, while he was filming a home that was about to be demolished, and threatened to break his phone if he did not stop filming and leave the area, he told CPJ. Sharma continued to discretely film in another area, he said.
Multiple police officers threatened to break the camera of Prabhat Kumar, a freelance journalist who filmed demolitions in the area, Kumar told CPJ, adding that an officer threatened to arrest him if he did not stop filming. Police also locked Kumar in a building after he had ascended to a terrace to film a protest, he said, adding that local residents opened the door and allowed him to leave about 15 minutes later.
On July 16, police officers armed with guns and batons threatened to arrest Naomi Barton, an audience editor with the news website The Wire who was reporting on the demolitions, if she did not stop filming at a demolition site, she told CPJ. Barton showed officers her press identification card but they insisted she leave the area, and she complied, she said.
Also that day, an unidentified individual in plain clothes approached Nikita Jain, a freelance journalist, and told her not to take pictures at a demolition site, and threatened to inform the police if she did not stop, she said.
A group of about 10 police officers surrounded Jain as she attempted to leave the village, and a senior officer told her that press coverage was prohibited in the area, she said. When Jain asked that officer to show her an official order prohibiting coverage, he refused and instructed Jain to show him her phone and delete its footage, she said, adding that she refused to comply.
That officer then instructed a group of female officers to escort Jain to another area, and told them to beat her if she resisted; the officers pushed Jain to another area, where a police officer threatened to break her phone and others ordered her to enter their car, she said. Jain told CPJ that she refused to comply and left the village on her own.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Intimidation and Threats
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to property
- Community-based HRD
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 15 and 16 July 2021, a number of community-based defenders opposing a village house demolition were beaten and arrested by the police, while 6 media workers were intimidated and prevented fro covering the incident in Faridabad, India.