INDIA: 7,000 Untouchables in Belilious Park evicted by the governments of West Bengal and the Howrah Municipal Corporation

Dear Friends

Below is an urgent appeal forwarded from the Eviction Watch regarding the forced evictions of 7,000 Untouchables in India. The Eviction Watch received the report from Rabial Mallick of the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, an NGO working among the urban poor in India. The forwarded appeal includes a copy of a memorandum from Rabial Mallick to the Howrah Municipa Corporation. The governments of West Bengal and the Howrah Municipal Corporation forcibly evicted them on 2nd February 2003. Your urgent action is requested to pressure the authorities to resettle the 7,000 Untouchables, who are currently living in miserable conditions at present, and provide full and immediate assistance to them.


To: The Mayor
Howrah Municipal Corporation

Dear Sir,

We, the undersigned organizations, work in different fields of the society among the downtrodden people. We have received complaints and have been informed that on 2nd February 2003, thousands of people were forcibly and illegally evicted from a piece of land at Belilious Park, 129, Belilious Road, Howrah by the administration. We have enquired and investigated the matter and our fact finding teams have found substances in the allegations.

The fact finding teams found that on February 02, 2003 at morning hours, a large number of people, almost 700 families, were forcibly evicted from Bellilous Park, Howrah with active participation of huge armed police force, Rapid Action Force consisting of near about 500 personnel. Two/three Bulldozers were employed to demolish hundreds of brick built houses, jhupris, structures, school building, temples, statues and thousands of people were rendered homeless in a day. Ambulances, fire brigade teams were present at your instance to secure smooth eviction.

The background of the incident is (in short) that an organization namely Howrah Ganatantric Nagarik Samity filed a writ petition in Calcutta High Court in the year 1987 on the issue of pollution in the park, popularly known as Bellilious Park. Under an order dated passed by the Division Bench of High Court, Calcutta the Municipal authority was directed to remove the trespassers. Under the garb of the said order thousands of people, the permanent residents who were in legal possession, were evicted by force on February 02, 2003 by the administration without giving proper rehabilitation or even any proper notice and opportunity to the residents of the said area which is more than 100 Bighas of land in the holding no. 129, Bellilious Road within police station Bantra, District Howrah, West Bengal. Surprisingly the residents were evicted but neither the Judiciary nor the administration nor the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) nor police administration gave the residents any opportunity of being heard before the eviction drive. The administration never cared to make any scrutiny or investigate to find out the legal status ofthepersons/families evicted.

We have gathered information that the land of Bellilious Park is not solely Government land and property. The fact as disclosed that thousands of sweepers/scavengers, coming from Dalit community, were employed at Howrah Municipality hundreds years ago and they were not allowed to take any rented accommodation in the localities of upper-caste people in the town area as they belonged to Sweeper/Dalit community, the untouchables. The sweepers used to carry night soil on their heads. The municipal authority itself had constructed a two-storied quarter in the part of the said park. The Municipal records itself reveal that a large number of employees of the Municipal Corporation are residents of the park and had been residing there for more than 100 years. It is equally true in respect of other government employees of Railways, Nationalised Banks, Public Sectors etc. Number of residents produced not only ration cards in their names but also Election Commissioner¡¯s identity cards, birth and death certificates, service records etc. all showing the address of the Park, 129, Bellilious Park, Howrah as proof of their legal permanent possession and residence. Even some residents contested elections from this address. The residents claimed that all together 7,000 people resided there.

It is learnt that the municipality has a development and beautification scheme and it has engaged a private all-famed developer for exploiting the park for commercial purposes. Already there are number of shopping complexes which have not been affected by the drive of eviction. It proves that you acted in the interest of rich and influential persons and the evicted people were ignored. The people were evicted suddenly without any rehabilitation scheme and there is no plan of any authority for alternative accommodation for the evicted people who were permanently in legal occupation.

All the evicted people belong to dalit community. We observed that gross illegality has been inflicted upon the residents of the park as they were evicted without any prior notice and such act on your part has manifested a great defeat of principle of natural justice and democratic practice and process. The evicted people got no opportunity to place their case before any authority. It is an accepted position of law of the land that the persons in settled possession can not be evicted without due course of law. The right to life of the citizens of the park, as guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution has been nakedly violated by you and in order to secure complete vacant possession of the park, you misinterpreted the term ¡®Trespasser¡¯ as mentioned in the High Court and evicted all persons and virtually the administration ransacked and looted the wealth of the victims. Round about 6,000/7,000 people were affected by your grossly illegal act.

We observed that the evicted people with the families are living under horrendous situations at Belgachia garbage dumping ground, on open streets under scorching heat of sun without shelter and drinking water, in absence of minimum sanitary system. The evicted people are forced to live under inhuman condition due to your illegal actions. The ensuing rainy season will further aggravate the already deteriorating conditions and there is every possibility of braking out of epidemics. Already four persons have succumbed to death under inhuman condition…….

We strongly protest and condemn such illegal eviction of innocent Dalit people from Bellilious Park. It is a fact that all evictions of common people from their settled possession without any programme of rehabilitation with its precondition is utter violation of human rights and natural justice.

We condemn and abhor your such illegal, unconstitutional and inhuman actions. It is rank and gross violation of human rights of the people. Till now there is no programme or any scheme of rehabilitation of the evicted people whereas it is mandatory that all evictions are preconditioned with the rehabilitation programme.

We demand immediate and proper rehabilitation of the displaced persons/families of Bellilious Park, Howrah at the same site forthwith with adequate compensations to the affected families for the illegal acts of eviction committed on your part for violation of not only the Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution but also the provisions of International Covenants of United Nations and Human Rights.

We shall be constrained to take the matter to any forum both in National and International panel and also in higher legal platform and intensify our agitational programme if you fail to act as desired being stooge of the interested quarter.

Yours truly,

Howrah Dalit Forum
Akhil Bharatiya Anusuchit Jati Jubajan Samaj,W.B.State Committee
Yuba Janahit Jana Sakti Shangha
Howrah JatiyaShangha
Khurut Harijan Kalyan Samity
Shelter for Homeless National Forum, Calcutta
Bastibashi Samanya Samity, Khidirpur, Calcutta
Gardenrich Slum Development, Calcutta
The Dalit Association, Howrah
Ambedkar Jagrity Sangha, Howrah
Progotishil MahillaSamity (Howrah branch)
Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
Kolkata NGO Forum for Street & Working Children

Contact Address:
Howrah Dalit Forum
82/10, Nara Singha Dutta Road, Howrah ­ 711101.

Please send a letter to:

1. Mr. Ashok Bhattacharya
Municipal Affairs & Urban Development Government of West Bengal
Fax: +91-332 2145 480
Email address:

2. Mr. Gopal Mukherjee
Howrah Municipal Corporation
Fax: +91-33-2660 3214

3. Mr. Miloon Kothari
The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing of the United Nations
Room 4-066
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Palais Wilson, Rue des Paquis 52,
Geneva Switzerland

4. Mr. Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo
Special Rapporteur on Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
Mr. Daniel Atchebro
Room 4-041
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Palais Wilson,
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
Tel: +41 22 9179271
Fax: +41 22 9179050



Re: INDIA: 7,000 Untouchables in Belilious Park evicted by the governments of West Bengal and the Howrah Municipal Corporation

I have received, with great concern, the report of the forced eviction, by the government of West Bengal on February 02, 2003, of 7,000 people in the Dalit (Untouchable) community, who live in Belilious Park in Belilious Road in Howrah. The Government of West Bengal and the Howrah Municipal Corporation did not give any notice of eviction to the residents and did not consider the legal status of the affected persons/families who have been residing in that place for hundreds of years. Nearly 500 armed police and Rapid Action Forces destroyed not only houses but also school buildings and temples.

The evicted families were not rehoused, and are living on garbage dumps and on the open street, without any access to water and only a minimum sanitary system. Four people are already known to have died under these poor conditions.

I urge the government of West Bengal to provide full and immediate assistance to the families affected by these evictions, to ensure their security and health. I also urge the government of West Bengal to provide proper rehousing to the families immediately. I further urge the government of West Bengal to provide adequate compensation to the 7,000 family members for the illegal eviction carried out against them and the damages incurred on their persons and properties. I also urge the National Human Rights Commission of India to investigate this case and pressure the government to punish the responsible person(s) by bringing them to court. I also urge the international community to make a determined effort to eliminate discrimination against Untouchables.

Yours sincerely,



Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission Hong Kong

Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-27-2003
Countries : India,