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Sunday, May 29, 2022

India: Muslim group takes ‘dangerous bulldozer policy’ to court

New Delhi, India A leading Muslim organization has filed a plea with India’s Supreme Court and is urging its intervention as properties of predominantly Muslims accused of violence have been seized by the authorities in states owned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) is governed, rejected.

“Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind has filed a petition with the Supreme Court against the dangerous policies of bulldozers who have begun destroying minorities, especially Muslims under the guise of crime prevention in BJP-governed states,” the group’s president Arshad said. Madani, said. Tweeted Monday.

The petition calls on the Supreme Court to issue orders to the federal and state governments that “no lasting precipitous action be taken against any accused in any criminal proceedings” and that residential buildings not be demolished as a punitive measure.

Last week, authorities in at least two states demolished dozens of houses and shops, almost all of them belonging to Muslims accused of violence during a Hindu festival.

In the central state of Madhya Pradesh, violence erupted earlier this month during the Ram Navmi festival.

Hindu worshipers usually take large processions on the day to celebrate the birth of their god Ram.

However, the marches this year saw saffron-clad Hindu men carrying swords, sticks and pistols as they marched through predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, raising slogans threatening genocide in the community, playing loud music outside mosques and houses and shops. who belonged to Muslims.

In some places, stones were pelted, leading to violence between the two communities, as both sides blamed the other for starting it. At least two people were killed in the clashes.

Protesters hold posters during vigil against anti-Muslim violence in India, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]

Violence erupted in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh after nearly 10 houses and a mosque were set on fire during the Ram Navmi march, forcing police to impose a curfew. Violence was also reported from other Indian states during the festival.

A day later, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the “rioters had been identified” while the state interior minister blamed Muslims for the violence.

“Those who threw stones will be punished, but along with that they will be forced to pay for the losses to both public and private properties,” Chouhan said.

Authorities in Khargone have used bulldozers to demolish nearly 50 properties – most of them belonging to Muslims accused of inciting violence.

Similar demolitions have also been reported from Modi’s home state of Gujarat following violence against Ram Navmi.

“The Madhya Pradesh government is only demolishing those structures that have been erected over government land. “If anyone feels that the law has been violated, they are open to going to court,” BJP politician Madhya Pradesh Rajneesh Agarwal told Al Jazeera on Monday.

But legal groups and legal experts have questioned the legality of the demolition.

Amnesty International said in a statement last week that the demolition “amounts to collective punishment” of the minority community and calls for a “thorough, impartial and transparent investigation” into the matter.

In his petition before the Supreme Court, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind said the policy of using bulldozers had “begun to destroy minorities, especially Muslims, under the guise of crime prevention in BJP-governed states”.

“The governments are doing what the courts have done before. It seems that the rule of law in India is now over, ”reads a statement released by the Muslim organization.

Supreme Court Attorney Vrinda Grover said the demolition of the property of a person accused of violence is “completely unconstitutional and illegal”.

“There is actually no law that allows this type of demolition. This person [accused] is a suspect at this time. “The police or the administration act like the judge, jury and the executor and punish the person,” she told Al Jazeera.

Majeed Memon, a former member of parliament and top criminal lawyer, agreed.

“Even if it is accepted that someone has committed some crime of riot or any other crime, the prime minister or any of the persons of the administration have no right to punish,” he told Al Jazeera.

Memon said an accused should be brought before a court of law. “Ultimately, it is the court that will decide the nature and quantum of punishment,” he said.

“This kind of so-called instant justice is similar to gang lynching.”

‘Bulldozer Mama’

Chouhan, prime minister of Madhya Pradesh, is popular in his state as “Mama” (maternal uncle).

Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Prime Minister of the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh [File: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters]

However, he is now called “Bulldozer Mama” by his fans – a play about “Bulldozer Baba” to which his counterpart Yogi Adityanath is referred in neighboring Uttar Pradesh.

Adityanath’s government is accused of demolishing dozens of homes and businesses belonging to Muslims in Uttar Pradesh in what activists called a “selective target” of those accused by the police of criminal activities.

“The houses of poor people were burned in Khargone. They do not have to worry because ‘Mama’ will build their houses. We will recover from those who burned their homes, “Chouhan told a news agency on Thursday during a rally in the state capital, Bhopal.

Last month, a billboard appeared in Bhopal saying: “Anyone who dares to walk around with the honor of sisters and daughters, the bulldozer will reach his door. “Whoever tries to be a deterrent in the safety of girls, Mama’s bulldozer will be the hammer.”

In his statement, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind called the demolitions a “cruel act”.

“It is noteworthy that the politics of bulldozers are already going on in Uttar Pradesh, but now this heinous act has also started in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh,” it said.

The academic and activist in New Delhi, Apoorvaanand, said there was an “internal competition within the BJP” and its various prime ministers over “who is more virulent than the others”.

“They [masses] wants immediate justice. “This is the basic instinct that the BJP appeals to and they are destroying the idea of ​​law and justice,” he told Al Jazeera.

“This is the end of the rule of law that is most worrying.”

Kashif Kakvi contributed to this report from Madhya Pradesh, India

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