In Shamli, victims to sit on fast against eviction

A group of riot victims of Malakpur and Suneti camps in Shamli, who are facing evictions, are expected to sit on a token fast on Monday outside District Magistrate's offices in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli to protest UP government's drive to clear out relief camps.

The group will be also joined by those already evicted from Loi and Kandhla camps and Delhi-based lawyer-activist Shehzad Poonawalla, who has been distributing relief items in the camps.

"This is a violation of basic human rights of people. So I urged victims to sit on a fast with me as a mean of peaceful protest," Poonawalla said adding his meetings with the Shamli District Magistrate over the weekend failed to elicit any assurance from the authorities to halt the evictions.

Poonawalla on Sunday also sent a letter to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Director General of UP Police alleging a threat to his life in the wake of his decision to sit on a fast. "Since the announcement of my protest, I have been informed by extremely credible sources that there is a plan to attack me in UP. I am receiving calls from Local Intelligence Unit of Uttar Pradesh, who are intrusively asking me for my whereabouts. I am beginning to wonder why there is a need for such enquiries that violate my right to privacy," Poonawalla wrote.

Gulshad, organiser of the Malakpur camp which has the largest number of displaced people — estimated to be around 1,500-2,000 families — said about 20-30 people would be sitting on fast. "Till now, we have seen evictions from Kandhla, and all of last week there was a heavy police presence around Malakpur. People here have been living in fear. So some people here have decided to sit on a fast from Monday," he said.

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