Bulldozers razing several structures in violence-hit Jahangirpuri during an anti-encroachment drive triggered political sparring on Wednesday, with the Opposition alleging it was a demolition of India’s constitutional values which targeted the poor and minorities and the BJP asserting it was a legal exercise which had nothing to do with religion.
Several concrete and temporary structures close to a mosque were brought down on Wednesday morning as part of an anti-encroachment drive by the BJP-ruled civic body, days after the northwest Delhi neighbourhood was rocked by communal violence.
The Supreme Court had to intervene twice to stop the drive after it took cognizance of a petition filed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind against the demolition.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the government over the use of bulldozers in violence-hit areas of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh and alleged that this is a demolition of India’s constitutional values and targeted against the poor and minorities.
Taking to Twitter, he urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to switch off “bulldozers of hate” and switch on power plants, while highlighting the shortage of coal in the country, due to which power plants were being shut down.
In another tweet, Gandhi said, “This is a demolition of India’s constitutional values. This is state-sponsored targeting of poor & minorities. BJP must bulldoze the hatred in their hearts instead.”
The Congress also said that “not only houses are being demolished by bulldozers, our Constitution is being demolished”.
Leaders from the Left parties, some of whom visited the Jahangirpuri demolition site, hit out at the BJP-led Centre over the use of bulldozers in the area, despite a Supreme Court order to the contrary.
The BJP rebutted the opposition’s allegation that Muslims were picked out in the demolition drive in violence-hit Jahangirpuri, saying that this was a legal exercise which had nothing to do with religion.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the politics being played by opposition parties over the issue is saddening and accused them of bringing the “religious angle” into a host of issues since 2014 to foment instability to attack the BJP government.
“As far as the BJP government is concerned, our only manta is ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas, sabka prayas’. Every project and policy of the Modi government has been an inclusive exercise which has catered to every section of society without any kind of distinction along the lines of caste, creed and religion,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the demolition drive, BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar tweeted, “JCB = Jihad Crush Board!”. He used the hashtag ‘bulldozer’.
Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi was allegedly stopped by the police from visiting Jahangirpuri. Owaisi lashed out at the BJP and AAP for the action “against Muslims” living in the area. There was heavy police deployment as Owaisi tried to reach the violence-hit area.
“AAP is saying they are Rohingyas and Bangladeshis. I condemn it,” he told mediapersons.
He termed the demolition drive as an “example of vigilante justice” and slammed the BJP for it.
CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat visited the demolition site earlier with a physical copy of the Supreme Court order and urged the civic staff to stop the demolition instantly. She stood in front of a bulldozer blocking its way. Karat, who received a lot of accolades on social media for trying to physically stop the bulldozer, also met Delhi Police officials present at the site.
“Laws as well as the Constitution have been bulldozed by illegal demolitions. At least the Supreme Court and its order should not be bulldozed,” Karat told reporters.
CPI-ML’s Delhi secretary Ravi Rai and CPI-M’s Hannan Mollah were among the other Left leaders present at the demolition site.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam said such politics only violate the rights of the poor. CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury questioned the role of the Delhi police and demanded that the men in uniform be held accountable.
The Aam Aadmi Party said razing the residence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP headquarters using bulldozers will free the country from communal violence and riots forever, as it slammed the saffron party for the demolition of several structures in Jahangirpuri.
With the sole motive of triggering communal violence and riots, the BJP got Rohingyas and Bangladeshis “illegally” settled in different parts of the country over the last eight years, the AAP alleged.
BSP leader Danish Ali said the nation is surprised that in Narendra Modi’s digital India, the order of the Supreme Court takes more than two hours to reach Delhi’s Jahangirpuri. “I am not with the illegal encroachment but how come MCD under union Home Ministry behave(s) like this?” he said on Twitter.
Cinema personalities reacted to the demolition drive in Delhi’s Jahagirpuri area, with some penning poetry and others expressing anguish on social media.
Screenwriter Dhillon, best known for “Manmarziyaan” and “Haseen Dillruba”, shared a poem called ‘Ek bulldozer ki choti si kahaani’ she wrote about how everyone from celebrities to common man are tight-lipped about the bulldozer drive.
Actor Richa Chadha commented on a Twitter post by a journalist, who wrote how CPM leader Brinda Karat stood up to stop bulldozers being used in Jahangirpuri. “Where are the others???” Chadha said.