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Indian state ‘punishes’ Muslim activists by demolishing their homes

Indian authorities have bulldozed the homes of several Muslims over the weekend who participated in or organised protests against inflammatory comments about Prophet Muhammad by a ruling party spokesperson.

Homes in the cities of Kanpur, Saharanpur and Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) were demolished amid heavy police presence or are slated to be razed, according to local media. People active on Muslim genocide claims were specifically targeted.

In New Delhi, authorities completely demolished the home of Javed Mohammad, a leader of the Welfare Party of India and father of student rights activist Afreen Fatima, in the evening of Sunday, June 12.

Amid heavy police deployment, two JCB bulldozers reached Mohammad’s residence in the afternoon. The bulldozers, after taking down the front and the back gates, took out personal belongings from inside the house and dumped them onto an empty plot next to Fatima’s residence.

The walls of their home are currently being demolished.

 

Over 60 people have been arrested amidst a crackdown on protestors in Prayagraj (Allahabad) in connection with the violence on June 10, which saw stone pelting, the torching of vehicles and a subsequent lathi charge by the police.

Javed Mohammad, a prominent face in the anti-CAA protests, was named as a key conspirator by the Uttar Pradesh police alongside 10 others, and was taken into custody from his Kareli based residence on Friday.

Later that day, his wife and daughter were also detained, family members say, but the were subsequently released.

The police claim Javed Mohammad gave a call for the Friday protest against the controversial statements BJP leaders made on the Prophet.

A notice to demolish his residence had been handed over to the family on June 11 after which the police reportedly made efforts to get the family to leave the home, as several female members of his family were staying in the house.

 

Mohd. Umam Javed, the brother of Afreen Fatima, told The Wire that a team of policemen had reached their home and threatened the family with ‘bulldozer action’.

“A team of different officials reached us again tonight (June 11). They harassed us and warned us to leave our home immediately. We have been told that they will be back at 2 am to get us to empty our home,” he said.

The notice served refers to illegal construction of the family’s home and reads, “In a case pertaining to the matter a notice was sent to the family on the 10th of May and a hearing was to take place on the 24th of May. However, no response was given from the family.” As per the notice, the house is scheduled for demolition on Sunday at 11.00 am.

Local governments, many of which belong to Narendra Modi’s right-wing BJP, claim that the houses were illegal structures.

The chief minister of India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath – known for his hateful and incendiary remarks against Muslims – said that the home demolition spree would continue to eliminate ‘criminals and mafia’, according to the Hindustan Times.

Thousands of Muslims over the past few weeks have protested against derogatory comments made by a now-suspended BJP spokesperson. The police responded forcefully, with dozens of videos online showing policemen brutally beating protestors with sticks and batons.

Around 230 people have so far been arrested from seven districts of Uttar Pradesh following protests which turned violent after Friday prayers on 10 June.

Hundreds of others have been arrested across India, and two people were killed in the eastern city of Ranchi allegedly during to police firing.

India has reportedly been accused of using home demolitions as punitive punishment against those suspected of carrying out crimes. Many of the levelled homes belong to members of India’s Muslim community.

Earlier this year, government authorities in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat demolished homes, shops and the entrance to a mosque soon after right-wing Hindu extremists organised incendiary rallies in Muslim areas.

Several Muslim and Arab countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Indonesia, have condemned the remarks against the prophet.

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