Image credit: BBC

Days after communal riots and the demolition of houses and shops, Jahangirpuri in Delhi remains tense.

On Saturday, when a Hindu ceremonial procession marched past a mosque, violence erupted in the region. Hindus and Muslims are blaming each other for the violence that has erupted.

The violence resulted in the injuries of nine people, including seven police officers.

An “anti-encroachment drive” was held in the neighbourhood on Wednesday. According to the local civic council, which is headed by India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party, the drive was launched to clear unlawful construction in the area.

Muslims, on the other hand, claim that their properties were disproportionately targeted, and they dispute the timing of the drive, which went on for an hour after the Supreme Court issued an interim halt order.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued another injunction directing all parties to maintain the “status quo” in the region.

The event in Delhi resembles one that occurred last week in Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is also in power. Muslims in the state’s Khargone city reported their homes were targeted disproportionately when violence erupted during a Hindu procession.

Residents in Jahangirpuri said they were astonished to see excavators because no notification of unlawful construction had been given to them. As seven excavator trucks made their way into the neighbourhood’s small alleyways, hundreds of armed police officers in riot gear formed a security cordon. The rather poor neighbourhood is surrounded by Bengali Hindu homes and tiny temples, as well as a sizable Bengali-speaking Muslim minority.

Residents in the area are now lamenting the loss of their property and possessions as the destruction continued for more than an hour after the court’s decision.

Details about purported illegal structures built on public or government property were carried by civic officials, who were tearing them down one by one.

The Delhi civic body statutes stipulate that anyone who trespasses on government property must be given a five-day notice in person.

The Supreme Court has now demanded that opponents of the demolition provide affidavits stating whether or not they were served notices prior to the destruction.


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