North Delhi’s civilian body demolished several buildings today in what they called a routine “anti-encroachment operation” in violence-stricken Jahangirpuri. The Supreme Court, responding to an appeal, halted the demolition and ordered an urgent hearing.
Here’s your 10-point guide to this big story:
Demolition started at 9:30 am and lasted until about 12:00 noon. Several shops, building structures, handcarts and even the outer gate of the mosque that was the center of last week’s violence were demolished by excavators from North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
14 teams from Delhi Municipal Corporation carried out the operation with nine excavators.
The Delhi Police has requested 400 officers, but more than 1,500 police and paramilitary troops were present in the context of the security situation.
No one was notified prior to the demolition. The mayor of North Delhi told DailyExpertNews that since it was an “anti-corruption operation” and not a demolition, no notices were needed.
The mayor of North Delhi had just written a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner requesting security forces, which were quickly made available to him.
This is the first of its kind in Delhi just after a violent incident like the one during Hanuman Jayanti. The board acted very quickly.
The anti-encroachment drill was ordered after Delhi’s BJP chief Adesh Gupta wrote to the mayor requesting that illegal structures by “rioters” be identified and demolished.
Although the mayor called it a “routine exercise”, the timing of the order, especially since it came after the BJP’s letter of intent, raised questions about political motives.
Opposition leaders have criticized the BJP when the BJP-led civilian body carried out the demolition. While Congress MP Rahul Gandhi called it “breaking down India’s constitutional values” and “state-sponsored targeting of poor and minorities”, Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha directly accused Home Minister Amit Shah of orchestrating municipal riots and asking for his house to be demolished.
Police have been on guard in Jahangirpuri since Saturday’s communal clash that broke out when an unauthorized Hanuman Jayanti procession took a route past a mosque. Nine people, including eight police officers, were injured in the violence that saw two groups throw rocks at each other and shoot.