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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Protest against ‘bulldozer justice’ against thousands of Indian Muslims

by Biswajit Banerjee | The Associated Press

LUCKNOW, India – Protests are taking place in several Indian cities to condemn the demolition of Muslim homes and businesses, which critics call a growing pattern of “bulldozing justice” aimed at punishing minority group activists.

On Sunday, officials in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh rode a bulldozer to demolish Javed Ahmed’s house, which they said was linked to a Muslim religious protest that turned violent last Friday. Police arrested Ahmed on Saturday.

The protests were sparked by recent derogatory remarks made by two spokespersons of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The party suspended one of them and expelled the other, issuing a rare statement saying it “strongly condemns the insult of any religious personality.”

Bulldozers also ransacked properties of protesters in two other cities of Uttar Pradesh last week. In April, authorities in New Delhi used bulldozers to destroy Muslim-owned shops, days after communal violence in which dozens were arrested. Similar incidents have been reported in other states as well.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, an expert on Hindu nationalist politics and a biographer of Modi, told the Associated Press on Wednesday: “The demolition is a gross violation of constitutional norms and morals.”

On Tuesday, 12 prominent people, including former Supreme Court and High Court judges and lawyers, sent a letter to the Chief Justice of India urging him to hold a hearing on the demolition, calling them illegal and “a form of collective extra-judicial punishment”. He accused the Uttar Pradesh government of using violence against the protesters to quell dissent.

Two people were shot dead in a clash with the police in Jharkhand state capital Ranchi on Friday protesting the remarks of the governing party spokesperson.

Several Muslim-majority countries have also criticized the comments, and protesters in Bangladesh have called for a boycott of Indian products, leaving India’s government scrambling to block a diplomatic response.

Violence against Muslims by Hindu nationalists, fueled by Modi’s regular silence on such attacks since he was elected prime minister in 2014, is on the rise.

Muslims have been targeted for their food or clothing, or for inter-religious marriages. Rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Modi’s party of looking the other way and sometimes enabling hate speech against Muslims, which comprise 14% of India’s 1.4 billion people, but of any country. Has the second largest Muslim population. Modi’s party denies these allegations.

Over the weekend, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk-turned-party politician, asked state officials to demolish illegal buildings belonging to those linked to Friday’s protests, in which more than 300 people died. was arrested.

On Sunday, bulldozers turned Ahmed’s house into rubble after authorities claimed it was built illegally, which was denied by Ahmed’s lawyer and family.

“If the construction was illegal, why was no action taken earlier? Why did the government wait till the riots happened?” Asked Shaukat Ali of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, a political party.

Officials say the demolitions only target illegal buildings, but rights groups and critics say they are attempting to harass and marginalize Muslims, pointing to a wave of growing religious polarization under Modi’s regime. Huh.

World Nation News Desk
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