Authorities in New Delhi on Monday halted a demolition drive in a Muslim-majority neighborhood after hundreds of residents and several opposition party workers gathered in protest.
No buildings were demolished before the bulldozers retreated.
Anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks have increased across India over the past month, including stone-pelting between Hindu and Muslim groups during religious processions, demolition drives in some states, where several Muslim-owned properties were destroyed by local authorities. had gone.
This was most recently seen last month in a north-western neighborhood in New Delhi where bulldozers destroyed several Muslim properties. Before the Supreme Court halted the drive. The demolitions were carried out days after the communal violence, in which many were injured and arrests were made.
Amid heavy police presence on Monday, bulldozers arrived at Shaheen Bagh, which became the site of intense protests after a controversial bill was passed by Parliament in 2020. Last year, which amended the citizenship law of the country. The new law will fast-track the persecuted naturalization of religious minorities from some neighboring Islamic countries, but excludes Muslims, leading many to call it discriminatory.
This led to demonstrations across India for months and Shaheen Bagh soon became a symbol of resistanceWith the protests led by Muslim women in a peaceful sit-in along a highway passing through the neighbourhood.
Officials have said that these demolition drives target illegal buildings and not any particular religious group. But critics argue that such moves are the latest attempt to harass and marginalize Muslims, who make up 14% of India’s 1.4 billion population, and the growing religious polarization under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. points to a pattern.
As the bulldozers went by, Mohammad Niaz, 47, who lives in the neighborhood, called it “vote-bank politics” aimed at dividing the Hindu and Muslim communities.
The residents of Shaheen Bagh also questioned the timing of the move to bring in the bulldozers and said that many buildings in the neighborhood have existed for decades without the intervention of local authorities. Earlier, officials had dubbed the recent demolition drive a “regular exercise” to bring down illegal properties.