People facing demolition of their homes in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura expressed relief on Thursday as the Supreme Court stayed an Uttarakhand High Court order to remove encroachments from 29 acres of railway land.
The Supreme Court sent notices to the state government and the Railways seeking their responses to a bunch of petitions challenging the high court order.
“We welcome the apex court’s stay. Politics was being done on the issue which is wrong,” a Banbhoolpura resident said soon after the Supreme Court directions. The next SC hearing on the matter is on February 7.
“We hail the Supreme Court’s decision. We have the documents. Banbhoolpura like the rest of Haldwani is situated on ‘nazul’ land. If you remove us then you will have to remove entire Haldwani. Why this discrimination with us?” another resident of the area near the town’s railway station said.
Earlier, local residents sat on a dharna in front of a mosque here, offering prayers ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on their plea challenging the high court order.
The Uttarakhand High Court had on December 20 ordered removal of “encroachments” from 29 acres of railway land in Banbhoolpura area after giving a one-week notice to the residents to vacate it.
A large number of women and children were among those who sat on the dharna Thursday morning.
Residents claimed they have documents that prove that their homes in the area legal.
“Muslims all over the world are looking towards the apex court with hope. People have been living here for 100 years. They have the proof and documents. We hope the court delivers justice and gives an order that is favourable to us,” Ahmad Ali, an elderly resident, said.
Naeem, another local resident claimed that his forefathers began living in the area 200 years back.
“There are two inter colleges, schools, hospitals, an overhead water tank, a sewer line laid in 1970, a mosque and temples in the area,” former Congress MLA from Manglaur and AICC secretary Qazi Nizamuddin said.