INDIA: Forced eviction in West Bengal by the local police


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-257-2007
ISSUES: Child rights, Land rights,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from MASUM, a local human rights organisation based in West Bengal, India regarding the illegal destruction of nearly 100 houses at the Rajabazar Canal – Canal East Road area by the local police stationed at the Narkeldanga Police Station in Kolkata. It is alleged that the houses, mostly tents and shanties, were forcefully pulled down and burned by the police to evict the residents.


On August 2, 2007 at about 2pm the police officers from Narkeldanga police station led by an officer in uniform appeared at Rajabazar Canal – Canal East Road. The place is occupied by about 100 houses by very poor people in the locality. The residents are mostly Muslims and their houses are no more than plastic tents and shanties.

The police officers were armed with sticks and Kukris [a local knife]. Soon the officers started cutting down the ropes which held the plastic sheets that formed the roof for the houses. As the sheets fell down destroying the shanties, they were burned. The residents were not allowed to gather their belongings and neither were there any warning or notice served upon the occupants prior to the destruction of their shanties. Those who protested were kept at bay by being charged using the sticks the officers had. Several residents lost their belongings in the fire.

Several persons were injured in the incident. The assault and destruction by the police was sudden that even babies sleeping in the tents were saved just in the nick of the time. Praveen Kumar, a two-month-old baby boy was sleeping with his sister inside his house when his house was set on fire. Seeing the incident, a neighbor Mr. Halim Shiek tried to rescue the baby from the tent. The police prevented him from entering the house. But later he managed to ward off the resistance and save the baby.

It is alleged that this is not the first time the houses were destroyed by the police in the Rajabazar Canal – Canal East Road area. A similar incident happened in the month of June this year in which also the residents lost their belongings.

In the current incident several persons lost their records. For example Suraj and Sultana, two minors, lost their birth certificate in the fire. The police in addition to using force also used filthy language, particularly against the women to keep the people away.

Ms. Sahbina Khatoon, a student, was shouted at by the police officers using filthy language. Mr. Alauddin Sheik, a driver was carrying water when the police spotted him. The police charged upon him abusing him and alleging that he is carrying illicit liquor. Alauddin was dragged around by being held by his hair. His wife managed to save him from further assault. The police action lasted till 5pm.

On August 4, 2007 some 40 persons who lost their belongings in the police action along with the representatives of a local organisation called the Calcutta Samaritan went to the police station to submit a memorandum and to protest against the police brutality. But the officers refused to accept the complaint. The memorandum was signed by about 38 persons. When contacted later by MASUM, the duty officer at Narkeldanga Police Station, Mr. Sadhu Charan Singha, informed MASUM that the eviction was carried out under the instructions of the Deputy Commissioner of Police and that being a subordinate officer he did not have any authority to speak on the incident.

The Officer-in-Charge of Narkeldanga Police Station, in a letter issued to the Director of Calcutta Samaritans have reiterated that the eviction was an initiative of the local police in addressing crime and law and order in the locality. The letter reflects the officer’s limited understanding about rights, constitutional guarantees and fundamental freedom. The letter also justifies the police action.

The police have no authority to evict persons from any site, particularly from houses without an order from appropriate authorities. This could be the government, court or other quasi judicial authorities. In the current case there are no such issues involved. The police launched their attack upon the poor people staying in the shanties merely because they were certain that these people being poor will never have a possibility to complain.

It is true that several persons living in and around Kolkata city lives in unauthorized spaces and government property. This is because the inadequacy of affordable public housing to the poor who make a living out of the lowest paying jobs the city offer. Many of them, being Muslims are arbitrarily declared as Bangladeshi immigrants. Such a categorization takes away opposition against atrocious acts committed against these communities. West Bengal has in the past seen several evictions of which the AHRC has reported some. All these evictions were targeted against the poor sections of the society. For further information please see Bellilious Park evictions.

Please send a letter to authorities in West Bengal asking them to intervene in this case. The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________,

INDIA: Forced eviction in West Bengal by the local police

Victims: Residents of about 100 houses in Rajabazar Canal – Canal East Road
Alleged perpetrators: Police officers stationed at Narkeldanga Police Station
Place of incident: Rajabazar Canal – Canal East Road
Date of incident: August 2, 2007

I am writing to you to express concern about the case of illegal eviction reported from Rajabazar Canal area of Kolkata. I am informed that the police officers stationed at Narkeldanga Police Station on August 2, 2007 evicted some 100 houses from Rajabazar Canal – Canal East Road. I am informed that the residents, belonging to the poorest section of the community lost their entire belonging in the process. I am also informed that the police officers threatened and intimidated the residents in the process.

I am informed that the police officers used force to keep the residents at bay during the operation. I am further informed that the police officers acted on their own evicting the people since there were no court orders or any other directives from the government to evict the residents from the locality. It is alleged that the police to evict the residents had set fire to the belongings of the residents, a process in which several of the residents lost valuable documents and other belongings.

I am concerned about this case and therefore urge you to intervene to make sure that if the eviction is found illegal actions be initiated against the police officers responsible for the incident. 

I am also concerned about the increasing intolerance of the local police to the minority community in West Bengal, particularly the Muslims and the poor in the state. I therefore urge you to also make sure that the local police under no circumstances do not disturb the dwellings of the poor and the marginalized in West Bengal without going through appropriate due process steps ensuring fairness. I also urge you to take appropriate actions so that the residents from Rajabazar Canal – Canal East Road area who lost their belongings receive compensation for their loss.



1. The Minister-in-charge 
Municipal Affairs and Urban Development
Government of West Bengal
Writers’ Buildings, Kolkata – 700001
West Bengal
Tel: +91 33 22145497
Fax: +91 33 22143853

2. The Chief Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers’ Buildings, Kolkata – 700001
West Bengal
Fax: +91 33 22144328

3. Home Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers’ Buildings, Kolkata – 700001
West Bengal
Fax: +91 33 22143001

4. Director General & Inspector General of Police
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings
West Bengal
Fax: +91 33 2214 4498 / 2214 5486

5. The Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg 
New Delhi -110001
Fax: +91 11 2334 0016

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-257-2007
Countries : India,
Issues : Child rights, Land rights,