No ‘Human Angle’

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India’s Supreme Court put a temporary hold on an order calling for the mass demolition of more than 4,000 homes in the state of Uttarakhand, which would have forced thousands of people to become homeless, the Independent reported Thursday.

The case concerns the thousands of buildings, including homes, government schools, mosques and temples along the railway line in the Banbhulpura district of the town of Haldwani.

Last month, Uttarakhand’s high court ruled in favor of local railway authorities, which had demanded the demolition of “illegal encroachments” along the railway line. But the state court’s verdict prompted protests from many of the residents, saying it would leave more than 50,000 people homeless.

Although railway authorities used old maps and legal documents to claim ownership of the area, the demonstrators countered they had been living there for generations.

Activists opposing the demolition order called it a “targeted attack” on a Muslim-majority neighborhood that also includes roughly 100 homes owned by members of the formerly lower-caste Dalit community.

The stay issued by the Supreme Court on Thursday was in response to a number of petitions filed in response to the lower court’s order.

The justices said in their ruling that the state court appeared to have passed its order without hearing the affected parties. The top court added that there was a “human angle” to the case, referring to the uprooting of tens of thousands of people and the need to verify individuals that have been living in the area for long periods.

The matter will be heard again in the Supreme Court next month.

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