No more ‘bulldozer justice’? With Supreme Court stepping in, will Jahangirpuri ‘rioters’ be spared?
The Supreme Court has halted the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri. The Delhi BJP chief had demanded that ‘illegal’ constructions of those arrested in violence be identified and demolished
For those charged with rioting, a new punishment has been chalked out – their houses will be bulldozed.
It happened in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone which saw communal clashes during Ram Navami. And now a similar fate awaits New Delhi’s Jahangirpuri. However, the Supreme Court has stepped in and halted the demolition drive in the Delhi area. It has ordered a status quo and the case will come up for hearing tomorrow.
Jahangirpuri, which was hit by violence after an altercation started between Hindus and Muslims during a Hanuman Jayanti procession, is now under the radar of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), which is controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The civic body had planned an encroachment drive in Jahangirpuri today.
Delhi | Encroachment drive will be done on illegal construction in the Jahangirpuri area on April 20th and 21st. MCD has asked for 400 personnel from Delhi Police to handle law and order during this period. pic.twitter.com/LcZbeJDcvI
— ANI (@ANI) April 19, 2022
Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta had written a letter to the NDMC mayor, instructing him to identify the illegal constructions of “rioters” in Jahangirpuri and demolish them using bulldozers. “As you are aware, on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, there was a shobha yatra taken out in Jahangirpuri. Some anti-social elements and rioters pelted stones on it,” he said in a letter.
“These anti-social elements and rioters have the support of local AAP MLA and councillor and as a result, these people have done large-scale encroachment. “Therefore, illegal encroachment done by these rioters should be identified and there should be bulldozers run over it,” he complained.
400 police personnel to be deployed
The NMDC has been quick to act. An assistant commissioner from the civic body asked the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) northwest for 400 police personnel including women officers to maintain law and order during a “special” encroachment removal action programme which will continue for three days. “The police are therefore requested to provide at least 400 police personnel including lady police/outer force for maintaining law and order during the encroachment removal action on April 20 or April 21 as per your convenience for three days,” the assistant commissioner of NDMC civil lines zone, said in the letter to the DCP. A copy of the letter was also sent to the commissioner of the municipal body.
While permission for the drive was sought on Tuesday, it could not be carried out since the police did not make personnel available, said NDMC Mayor Raja Iqbal Singh. He said they are hopeful of getting police support on Wednesday, reports The Indian Express.
Ansari’s properties to be removed
According to Singh, the main accused Ansari’s properties would be removed, as he has encroached on government land, adding that the municipal corporation had received several phone calls from residents about the illegal construction. “The illegal encroachments by these rioters should be identified and demolished with bulldozers and strict action should be taken against them at the earliest,” the mayor added.
The alleged miscreants in the Jahangirpuri violence might be given the same punishment as the ones in Khargone.
50 properties demolished in Khargone
After the violence during the Ram Navami procession in the Madhya Pradesh city, the state government said that damages caused to public and private properties will be recovered from the alleged rioters. The district administration demolished properties of those accused of stone-pelting.
At least 50 houses and properties across four locations in Khargone were razed to the ground. Numerous videos of bulldozers ramming into shops and buildings – most of them allegedly owned by Muslim families – surfaced on social media.
A bulldozer is running on the houses & shops
of the extremists who attacked
the Ram Navami procession in #khargone , Madhya Pradesh. pic.twitter.com/AdPDZNX2KY
— ZOONewsTV (@ZOONewsTV) April 11, 2022
Indore Divisional Commissioner Pawan Sharma said that “not all but some of the accused involved in the communal riots” to whom these properties belong were “encroaching on public land and action has been taken based on land revenue records”.
The idea is to “instil fear of financial losses among the accused”, he added.
It turned out that one of the houses bulldozed was built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The house belonged to 60-year-old Hasina Fakhroo, who complained that she served a notice on 7 April, three days before the clashes, asking her to produce details of ownership within three days or face demolition, according to a report in The Indian Express.
When asked about the demolition, the district collector told the newspaper that Khaskhaswadi was one of the main rioting areas.
The 2021 law
Late last year, Madhya Pradesh passed the Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property and Recovery of Damages Bill 2021 to “recover damaged property from protesters”. Through it, tribunals could recover up to twice the cost of the alleged damage.
“In Madhya Pradesh, we have passed the Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property and Recovery of Damage Bill. The rioters of Khargone will not only be punished but also the damages will be recovered from them. The state government is setting up a claims tribunal for this,” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said.
MP government has set up its first Claims Tribunal at Khargone for recovery of damages from the accused for the damage to property. Tribunal at Khargone has been set up in the wake of communal clashes that erupted on Ram Navmi & the city since then is under curfew @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/4pexU82sa4
— Iram Siddique (@Scribbly_Scribe) April 12, 2022
Defending the demolition, BJP leader and state in-charge P Muralidhar Rao had said that stone pelters will be “greeted with a bulldozer, not flowers” and that it was the government’s responsibility to act against “anti-social elements”, reports ThePrint.
“Law and order have nothing to do with religion. The government can’t be expected to take action keeping someone’s religion in mind. Just because someone follows a certain religion can’t be the criterion for taking or not taking action,” he had said.
With inputs from agencies
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