MEERUT: Uttar Pradesh human rights commission (UPHRC) has issued a notice to Baghpat district magistrate (DM) Rajkamal Yadav, ordering him to take appropriate action after 85 small leather tannery units in Bhadal village were demolished when “they were only asked to be closed down”. The commission also ordered him to “comply with its directive and inform”.
Though the incident dates to May 2022, it is only now that it has escalated with Dalit groups taking it up and the human rights commission stepping in. The administration in its defence said the units were “closed” in compliance with National Green Tribunal (NGT) order as these were causing pollution.
In July 2022, Shoshit Kranti Dal (SKD) president Ravikant had filed a complaint with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) alleging that the tanneries were demolished without any prior notice and the locals were cane charged.
Seven Dalits were booked under IPC sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 427 (mischief) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), among others, when they resisted the exercise. Ravindra Kumar, one of the victims, said that seven of them were sent to jail. He said that there were 85 small tannery units on about 30 bigha land in Bhadal. Mostly, members of Dalit community used to work there. Kumar claimed that a team of officers from local administration along with UPPCB officials and police had arrived with a JCB to demolish these units on May 7, 2022. He alleged that cops also caned them. “We were granted bail after two days,” said Kumar, now demanding that the police case against them be withdrawn. Kumar further said that the administration provided them land outside the village in lieu of the demolished units. But the land was “not sufficient and lacks facilities.”
Rajan Kumar, another local, said that the rubble of the demolished units was still lying there. “Around 125 people were working in these units. Most of them lost their only source of income and have nowhere to go now,” he added.
One of the locals said that those who worked there earned about Rs 400 a day. “Our families and children are now facing a lot of difficulties,” he added.
SKD president Ravikant, meanwhile, said that in 2018, the NGT passed an order to shut the units, not to demolish them. Hence, he filed a complaint on July 17. According to Ravikant, UPHRC has ordered the Baghpat DM to “intimate compliance to the commission by January 18, 2023”.
The Baghpat DM said, “Action to get the tannery units closed was taken in compliance with the NGT order. If required, a probe will be conducted in the matter and further steps will be taken as per the UPHRC order.”
Regional officer of pollution control (Baghpat), Prakhar Katiyar, said that there was an order to get the tannery units dismantled for flouting pollution norms.
Circle officer Yograj Singh, who had accompanied the UPPCB and local officials in May, said, “There was no cane charge by cops. The people were pelting stones at the police and administrative teams. They had to somehow protect themselves.”

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