India: In Uttar Pradesh, bulldozers are targeting Muslims who broke into houses and took part in protests

Newshub18:India: In Uttar Pradesh, bulldozers are targeting Muslims who broke into houses and took part in protests.

In the last few days, municipal authorities have bulldozed several houses in Prayagraj, Saharanpur and Kanpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. They say they were built illegally, but locals, opposition political leaders and human rights activists say the operation is aimed at Muslims.

The latest incident took place on Sunday in the town of Prayagraj – formerly known as Allahabad. The house of Javed Mohammad, a leader of the Welfare Party, was demolished in Kareli area of ​​the city.

He is said to have been the “mastermind” of the violent protests that followed the Friday prayers in the city last Friday. The protest was called in protest of recent controversial remarks by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma about the Prophet of Islam.

Earlier on Friday and Saturday, the houses of some Muslims in Saharanpur and Kanpur were also demolished by bulldozers.

Earlier in April, several Muslim houses were demolished after Hindu-Muslim clashes in Delhi.

Earlier, at least 45 Muslim houses in the state of Madhya Pradesh were similarly bulldozed.

Police and local authorities say the houses were built illegally. But locals say the BJP-led administration is actually demolishing Muslim homes in the name of inciting riots.

What happened in Prayagraj?

Muslims in India have been protesting in various parts of the country for the past few days in protest of the controversial remarks made by Nupur Sharma, a former spokeswoman for the ruling Hindu nationalist party BJP, on a TV channel about the Prophet of Islam.

Protests, especially after the Jumma prayers in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, sparked widespread violence. Police have since arrested more than 300 people from eight districts in Uttar Pradesh.

Police say Mohammad Javed Ahmed, a resident of Prayagraj, was the mastermind behind the violence.

The news agency ANI said in a tweet that the Prayagraj Development Authority had issued a notice that Javed Mohammad’s house would be demolished. He was ordered to vacate the house by 11 a.m. Sunday. The reason given is that the house was built illegally.

Then on Sunday a bulldozer came and demolished the house.

Earlier on Saturday, a newly built house of a man named Mohammad Ishtiaq was demolished in Kanpur city. He is said to be a close associate of Zafar Hayat Hashmi, the main accused in the Kanpur violence.

Ananda Prakash Tiwari, a police official, said the building had been demolished following the rules and regulations, and that they were taking action against the landlords’ illegally constructed houses.

Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing 64 protesters by truck. Municipal authorities in Saharanpur also demolished the houses of two of the arrested, Mozammel and Abdul Bakir. Police say these houses were built illegally.

Similarly, houses were demolished in Jahangirpuri, Delhi

In the third week of April, Hindu-Muslim clashes erupted in the Jahangirpuri area of ​​Delhi over the Hanuman Jayanti procession. Violence erupted as a Hindu procession passed by a mosque in the area, injuring at least nine people. Seven of them were policemen. Both Hindus and Muslims blame each other for the incident.

Soon after, the municipal authorities started a program to demolish “illegal houses” in their language.

The municipal authority in the area is run by the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP in India. According to them, the operation is to demolish illegal houses in the area.

But Muslims there say the vandalism was aimed specifically at their homes.

Residents of Jahangirpuri complained that they were not given any notice about the eviction drive. The eviction drive lasted for an hour after the Supreme Court of India issued an interim order to stop the operation.

Bulldozers were also sent to the Shahinbagh area of ​​Delhi in May – where there were widespread protests and violence in protest of the Citizenship Act in 2019-20 – to “evict illegal occupants”. However, the bulldozer returned in the face of protests from local residents and opposition political activists.

The same pattern – which started in Madhya Pradesh

There are many similarities between what is happening in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh – what happened in April in Madhya Pradesh. BJP is also in power in Madhya Pradesh.

In a small town called Khargone, there was communal violence during the Hindu Ramnabami festival. The riots started when a Hindu procession was passing through a Muslim area.

After that, the Muslims living in Khargone town said that their houses were demolished after that incident.

At least 45 Muslim homes have been demolished in the state so far, according to Indian media reports.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has earlier demolished the houses of those accused of misdemeanors, criminals, or rape. That’s why his supporters are calling him “Bulldozer Mama” lately.

Yogi Adityanath, the Geruadhari Hindu nationalist chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has already received such a title in public.

Mr. Adityanath often used bulldozers to demolish the houses of the accused as criminals in his kingdom. That’s why he got the name “Bulldozer Dad.”

In both states, Muslim homes have been vandalized in the name of inciting riots.

What are the authorities saying?

Wherever such raids have taken place in India, the police or the authorities have come up with somewhat similar explanations.

Police say it is an operation to evict illegally built houses, shops or establishments by occupying government land. Authorities say the raids were not aimed at any particular religious community.

But there are different indications in the conversations of some people in the administration and BJP leaders.

During the Ramnabami riots in Madhya Pradesh, the state government directly blamed Muslims for this. State Home Minister Narottam Mishra then told a TV channel that Muslims could not expect justice if they carried out such attacks.

He also said that the houses from which stones were thrown should be turned into pieces of stone.

Anti-human rights activists, political leaders and analysts say all Muslims are being punished at once for one crime.

Can the authorities use the law in this way?

Ashhar Warsi, a senior lawyer in the city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh, told the BBC that the state government had the power to demolish illegally constructed buildings. But before that the authorities have to take some other steps.

This includes giving the building owner a notice, giving him a chance to respond or go to court”

Apart from that, the state of Madhya Pradesh has its own law passed in 1956 which mentions some other measures including first imposing fine on the accused. Authorities could have used them before the house was demolished – says Mr. Warsaw.

“Breaking down a house should be seen as a last resort,” he said.

Police say they have issued notices to alleged illegal occupants.

But BBC correspondents have spoken to at least three families after the incidents in Madhya Pradesh who have denied receiving any such notice.

According to experts, demolition of a house as a punishment for a crime can never be legal.

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“Simply put, you can’t do that,” says Mr. Warsaw.

He says the authorities are “taking the law into their own hands and disabling the courts.”

Political analyst Rahul Verma says, “The law is being used as a cover here. If these houses are illegal then it was before the protests. You cannot take retaliatory action like this because it is a violation of due process.

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