Forced to Live Under Open Sky After Government Bulldozered Houses of Settlement

May 9, 2023 By: INSEC

Budhiganga Municipality-3 in Chaukidanda, witnessed the displacement of  35 families after the local administration bulldozered houses in a protected area of community forest. According to reports, the local administration and the Forest Division Office had bulldozers move into the area to remove the illegally constructed buildings. The community had been residing there for five years.

It was reported that around two months ago, 240 buildings had been constructed in the community forest area, adjacent to the East-West Highway and the Budhiganga Community Forest. On May 18, the local administration brought a bulldozer to clear the illegally constructed buildings, leaving 35 families homeless. They carried out the removal process without providing alternative living arrangements to the landless individuals. The displaced families, which include 40 children, 10 senior citizens, and pregnant women, are forced to live under the open sky.

After receiving information about the incident, the National Human Rights Commission and the INSEC Nepal team visited the area to investigate and provided support for the affected families.

Due to the prolonged stay of the residents and the absence of land ownership, the Ward Office has provided buffalo and goat rearing programs for livelihood and has provided taps for drinking water. However, even after this, Sarita Badi, who was affected by the administration’s bulldozing of the settlement, is now distressed.

She said, “During the election, the leaders promised to manage everything and asked for our vote. We gave our votes. However, after winning, they bulldozed our homes. We are left with nothing but the vote bank.”

Anju Badi, said, “They did not let us take any books from our homes. My education has been interrupted. This is a violation of human rights. Who will give us justice? Our right to education has been taken away.”

After the government bulldozed their homes, the distressed Kaplana Badi is now forced to live in difficult conditions.

She said, “I am nine months pregnant. The doctor has given me a delivery date of May 9, 2023. After delivery, I will have to live in an unsafe place in the open sky. Who will take responsibility for my and my child’s safety?”

After the community’s homes were destroyed, they were given temporary shelters, but vulnerable members of the community face the challenge of living in these shelters.

The Ward Chairperson of Godawari Municipality-3, Tejraj Bhandari, has said that he will manage the administration by identifying the landless people through the joint meeting of all parties and stakeholders. They will provide land to the landless and then vacate the encroached area.

The Mayor of Godawari Municipality, Birendra Bhatta, has said that the members of the Badi community, who acquired land and land deeds land in 1996, were also residing in the area despite having their own land.

Information Officer Shivraj Joshi of the District Administration Office, Kailali, said that they accepted there are no factual data to identify the actual l Sukumbasi and landless squatters.

After the discussion with the Dalit Commission, the Chief District Officer directed to provide immediate support with tarpaulins, utensils, and food to the displaced community.

Road Division Kanchanpur, District Administration Office, Kailali, District Forest Division Office, Kailali, Saw Division Office, Attariya, Godawari Municipality, Malika Community Forest User Group, and Chaukidanda Women’s Community Forest User Group, along with security personnel, used dozers to demolish houses. After being evicted, people have been facing problems of unsafe shelter, food, and water for the past nine days.

According to Mitu Badi, a witness from the displaced community, incidents of rape and attempted rape have also occurred due to unsafe living conditions. She reported that on the night of May 4, two strangers came and attempted to rape a 60-year-old woman in the jungle. The victim was taken to the regional hospital for treatment on May 5. If the attempted rape had not been prevented, it would have resulted in a violent incident. Who is responsible for our safety? Are we not citizens of this country?

INSEC conducted a study regarding the living conditions of 32 households and their children’s right to education in Malika Toll, Chaukidanda-3, Godawari Municipality, and its findings were published in the Nepal Human Rights Yearbook 2023.

The INSEC study report states that among the 32 households that migrated from a hilly district in the far-western region at different times to settle in Basaisarai, only seven households have ownership of land with proper documents, while the remaining 25 households do not have proper documents in their name.

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- Mainamoti Chaudhary