Responding to the reports of targeted demolition of Muslim-owned properties a day after incidents of communal violence instigated by participants of a Hindu Rally in India’s financial capital Mumbai, Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India’s board, said:
“It is alarming to note the impunity with which the Indian authorities have been enforcing their discriminatory de-facto policy of arbitrarily and punitively demolishing Muslim properties following episodes of communal violence. Such unlawful action against people suspected of violence, allegedly without notice or other due process requirements is a major blow to the rule of law.
It is alarming to note the impunity with which the Indian authorities have been enforcing their discriminatory de-facto policy of arbitrarily and punitively demolishing Muslim properties following episodes of communal violence.Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India’s board
“The Indian authorities must immediately halt this policy of using demolition drives as an excuse to target Muslims and ensure that safeguards against forced evictions as outlined in international human rights standards are put in place. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a state party, prohibits forced evictions. Adequate compensation must be offered to all those affected without discrimination, ensure that victims have access to effective remedy, and those responsible are held to account.”
“The authorities must also urgently ensure that those responsible for inciting violence and vandalism are brought to justice through fair trials. It is the duty of the state to protect all people within its jurisdiction, including minority communities.”
On 21 January, an argument broke out leading to violence when a group of Hindus with saffron flags chanting “Jai Shri Ram” were stopped by some Muslim locals in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Fifteen shops, including those belonging to street vendors, were demolished in the Muslim-dominated Haidary Chowk area of Mira Road by state authorities on 23 January.
There have been several incidents of communal violence reported across the country after the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh that has been constructed on the site of Babri Masjid, a medieval era mosque that was demolished by a Hindu mob in 1992.
Local activists have reported that no notices were served ahead of the demolition. Previously, the Bombay High Court has held that providing due notice to street vendors must be the first step of eviction processes and physical eviction may only be used as a last resort.
Multiple state authorities have continued to use such punitive demolitions targeting Muslims in India as previously documented by Amnesty International.