Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, June 20
About 800 slum-dwellers, who were evicted from the Charan Khad area by the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation authorities on last Saturday, are on roads. Residents of Passu and Gamru villages, where the administration had proposed to rehabilitate these slum-dwellers, have refused to accept them.
The slum-dwellers were taken to Gamru village this morning. They were accompanied by the deputy mayor. The idea was to settle them on the common village land. However, the villagers gathered there and forced the slum-dwellers to take away their belongings.
Talking to The Tribune, Pinki, a student of Class XII whose family was among the slum-dwellers, said initially the deputy mayor had assured them that they would be settled at Gamru village.
“However, when the villagers gathered there, the deputy mayor backed out and said he was not party to the decision to settle them on the common land at Gamru village,” she said.
Later, police officers directed the slum-dwellers to take their belongings to Passu village. However, there also the villagers resisted the move to settle the slum-dwellers on their common land.
Ranjit Singh, up-pradhan of Passu village, said the administration had not taken them into “confidence” before deciding to allow the slum-dwellers on their common land. “We will not allow them to settle on our land,” Ranjit Singh said.
He alleged that the land, where efforts were being made to settle the the slum-dwellers, was already earmarked for bringing up a vegetable market and the foundation stone for it was laid by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh about a year ago.
The police reached the spot but remained mute spectators. They even suggested the slum dwellers to go back to Rajasthan or Maharashtra, their respective states.
Sanjay, a labourer and one of the slum-dwellers, said the rain had started in the region. At such a time the municipal corporation authorities had uprooted the slums and an alternative site was not being provided.
“Due to the fact that our belongings are lying on the road, most of us who are daily wagers have not been able to earn their living,” he said.
The slum-dwellers are being provided food by Tibetan NGO Tonglen on humanitarian grounds.
The day on which the municipal corporation uprooted the slum, Mayor Rajni had assured that an alternative site would be provided to them. She had also assured that the municipal corporation would provide toilet facilities to them at the alternative site.
However, when contacted the Mayor said they were trying to provide an alternative land to the slum- dwellers, adding that no guarantee could be given in case they faced an opposition from the locals.
The Dharamsala municipal corporation had uprooted the slum dwellers as the site on which they were staying had been selected for bringing up new office of the corporation. The slum dwellers though being citizen of the country are being treated as refugees in Dharamsala and being forced to flee as they have no land here.
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