More than 300 properties belonging to Muslims have been demolished and over 170 people arrested from the only Muslim majority district Nuh (Mewat) in the BJP ruled Indian state of Haryana following communal clashes last week instigated by far-right wing Hindu groups including VHP and its youth wing Bajrang Dal.
On Monday 7 August, in an unprecedented brave move, the Punjab & Haryana High Court took suo motu cognisance of and stopped the demolition efforts carried out in Nuh district after the recent communal conflicts.
The court said that there have been instances of unauthorised demolition of buildings in Nuh and Gurugram without following proper demolition procedures and expressed worry about the possibility of targeted demolition of buildings owned by the Muslim community, which could suggest ethnic cleansing efforts by the State.
“Apparently, without any demolition orders and notices, the law and order problem is being used as a ruse to bring down buildings without following the procedure established by law. The issue also arises whether the buildings belonging to a particular community are being brought down under the guise of law and order problem and an exercise of ethnic cleansing is being conducted by the State,” the order passed on Monday 7 August said.
According to the Court, authorities stated that the demolitions were being conducted due to illegal constructions put up by individuals engaged in anti-social activities.
“Anti-social activities” refers to the communal clashes that erupted in Nuh district from where more than 170 individuals have been arrested, 90% of them Muslims according to Nuh police sources.
Muslim community members have raised concerns over alleged bias in the arrests. They claim that the police disproportionately targeted Muslim men while failing to take adequate action against Hindu men involved in the violence.
Muslim families are seeking justice for their arrested relatives, maintaining their innocence and claiming that those detained are individuals who are believed to be minors, under the age of 18.