Forced Evictions in India in 2019: An Unrelenting National Crisis

Despite the critical importance of adequate housing—both as a means of prevention and for recovery—in dealing with pandemics like COVID-19, the Indian government has not paid attention to reducing the incidence of homelessness or to improving the quality of housing of the urban and rural poor during the pandemic or in its recovery plans. This has resulted in a ‘business as usual’ attitude, which sadly caused the forced eviction of over 20,000 people between 16 March and 31 July 2020.Recognizing the crucial importance of housing in protecting people from the pandemic, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called on State parties to impose a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic.Several Indian courts, including the Allahabad High Court [Writ C 7014/2020], the High Court of Bombay [W.P. (L) 900/2020], and the High Court for the State of Telangana also directed state authorities not to evict people or demolish homes during the lockdown. Despite these orders and advisories, HLRN has recorded at least 45 incidents of forced eviction across India during the COVID-19 pandemic – while the complete national lockdown was in force (25 March to 31 May 2020) and since restrictions have been eased in most parts of the country (1 June to 31 July 2020).