Dharamsala city in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh is known as a place of refuge; many including Tibetans who fled China took shelter. But on June 17, 2016, the Municipal Corporation of Dharamshala (MCD) and the district administration turned their back on the city's poor and rendered about 1500 residents homeless by demolishing their shanties in Charan Khad. MCD cited the reasons for opendefecation and sanitation concerns to back the demolition drive. However, it did not provide the evicted with any rehabilitation. The slum dwellers are mostly migrant workers; many of them are Scheduled Caste people of Rajasthan and Maharashtra and had been residing in the slum cluster for over 30 years. As most of them work as daily wage labourers at construction sites, rag pickers and streetside vendors, they have nowhere to go. The eviction was described as "inhumanely" by a factfinding report. In March 2016, the MCD started planning the demolition. It showed the slum dwellers relocation sites in villages Gamru, Passu and Sarra. The displaced people allege these villages have no amenities like housing, sanitation or water. They also said that the residents of these villages opposed the rehabilitation and that they were kicked out. However, MCD made no effort to sort out the rehabilitation problem and went ahead with the demolition on June 16 and 17, after serving a 10day notice. The families were left on the streets to fend for themselves in the monsoon season. Close to 115 children from the slum, studying at government schools nearby, were adversely affected by the displacement. Activists allege police intimidated the displaced slum dwellers and those attempting to talk to them or provide support. Some news reports suggest that evictions were carried out after Dharamshala was shortlisted as a smart city in 2016. On June 25, 2016, the slum dwellers marched raising slogans like garibo ko ujadna bandh karo and Charan Khad visthapiton ka punarwas karo demanding rehabilitation. In the same month, one of the residents filed a petition in the High Court challenging the eviction. However, the court dismissed the petition. By September 2016, several families built temporary shelter in the city outskirts and applied for affordable houses, provided under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY). Even after four years, the evictees are still awaiting rehabilitation, according to a press note in June 2020. The Charan Khad Basti Punarwas Samiti has been appealing to the authorities. They also submitted a memorandum to the District Collector of Kangra demanding relocation close to the city citing the difficulties in accessing livelihood opportunities and the additional financial burden. The National Human Rights Commission has issued multiple notices to MCD and the state government. In the same press note, Sumit Mahar of Kangra Citizens Rights Group questioned why the Himachal government was treating the migrant workers, who have been providing services to the city for decades, as second class citizens? He also stated that during the Covid crisis and lockdown the government issued several statements asking migrant workers to stay back, continue contributing to the states economy and that they would be taken care of by the government. According to a 2020 news report, many of the evicted families have shifted to a temporary settlement in Chetru village, located on the flood plains of the Manjhi stream. This had made the affected vulnerable to flood damages every monsoon season. Meanwhile, the same report also stated that none of the families was granted housing under PMAY yet. Now, the restrictions due to the pandemic has hindered the advocacy activities to demand rehabilitation, Sumit Mahar told the Land Conflict Watch.
Demand for rehabilitation
Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?
Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict
Constitutional Law, Other
Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute
What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land, Lack of legal protection over land rights, Non-rehabilitation of displaced people
Status of Case In Court
Whether any adjudicatory body was approached
Name of the adjudicatory body
Name(s) of the Court(s)
High Court of Himachal Pradesh
CWP No. 1500 of 2016, CWPIL No.17 of 2014
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Torching of houses
Whether criminal law was used against protestors
Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?
Reported Details of the Violation:
The eviction was process was disorganised and traumatising for the community. A video clip (taken on 20 June) shows shacks being dismantled and torn tarpaulins and plastic sheets being collected and piled up by municipal workers while some evicted people continue to try and salvage their belongings.
Date of Violation
June 20, 2016
Location of Violation
Charan Khad, Kangra
Nature of Protest
Protests/marches, Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials , Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)
Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:
District Administration of Kangra, Municipal Corporation Dharamshala
PSUs Involved in the Conflict:
Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Charan Khad Basti Punarwas Samiti, Kangra Citizen Rights group