Muslim homes demolished in MP Over ‘Cow’ related incidents, draw widespread outrage

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A Muslim home demolished in Ratlam district, Madhya Pradesh.

By Anwarulhaq Baig

RATLAM(MP)—In a controversial move, authorities in Madhya Pradesh demolished the homes of four Muslim men just after detaining them on charges of throwing bovine remains at a temple in Jawra, Ratlam district, even as the Madhya Pradesh High Court was hearing a petition against the impending demolition drive.

Talking to Indiatomorrow.net, Zaid Pathan from the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) Madhya, Pradesh chapter, informed that the police first arrested Shariq Qureshi and Salman, aged 18-20, on June 14. They were charged with throwing bovine remains at the premises of a temple in Jawra. According to Pathan, shockingly, their houses were demolished the same day without prior notice while two more men, Naushad and Shahrukh, were subsequently arrested on similar charges.

Despite the families’ pleas and a petition filed by APCR in the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking a stay on demolitions, authorities razed almost half portions of Naushad and Shahrukh’s homes on June 16.

“The administration issued demolition notices dated June 14 on June 16 around 12:30 PM, and demolitions began shortly after. The court granted a stay order around 2:30 PM, but the houses had already been demolished between 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM,” Pathan informed Indiantomorrow.net.

Pathan stated that an APCR fact-finding team confirmed the demolished houses were on legal lands and not public properties.  The APCR fact-finding team visited the town and met families and individuals. The APCR termed the demolition drive without a court order illegal and highlighted that authorities faced threats of a “bandh call” on Eid if they didn’t act against the accused families.

APCR fact-finding report also questioned the police’s claim of having video evidence, stating the temple’s CCTV cameras were switched off during the alleged incident. The men were only seen walking on a similar road in CCTV footage from a roadside camera, it added.

According to the APCR team’s fact-finding, women from the families were allegedly attacked, mistreated, and injured during the demolition drive.

Interestingly, the Chief Officer of Jaora Municipal Council issued a notice dated June 14, asking Naushad and Shahrukh to remove alleged unauthorized construction on a drainage channel within 24 hours, citing violations of the Municipal Corporation Act and Urban Development Rules. Failure to comply would result in the demolition of the encroachment and associated costs levied on them.

However, Pathan claimed the families offered to remove the portions constructed on municipal land merely 3 to 4 feet themselves, but the authorities rejected their offer and demolished many feet deeper into their legal premises.

Justice Prakash Chandra Gupta, in his stay order, directed the respondents, including the Madhya Pradesh state government, the District Magistrate, police, and the Chief Municipal Officer of Jawra Municipal Corporation, to maintain the status quo with respect to the disputed property as it existed before 2:45 PM on June 16 until the next hearing date. The petition was filed through Advocate Syed Ashhar Ali Warsi on behalf of the APCR Madhya Pradesh chapter.

This incident is not an isolated case in Madhya Pradesh. In another recent incident, the homes of 11 people were demolished a few days back after alleged beef was found in their refrigerators in the tribal-dominated Mandla district. The police claimed to have received a tip-off about cows being brought to the area for slaughter, leading to the raids and subsequent demolitions of the houses of 11 accused in the case.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court previously expressed strong disapproval of such demolition drives without due process. In February 2014, a bench headed by Justice Vivek Rusia observed, “It has become fashionable now for local administration and local bodies to demolish any house by drawing up proceedings without complying with the Principle of Natural Justice and publishing it in the newspaper. The court ruled that demolition should be the “last recourse” and should only be carried out after giving the owner a proper opportunity to get the construction regularized.

Despite these observations, the state administration seems undeterred in its approach, leading to concerns about the violation of due process and natural justice principles.

Experts and activists have raised concerns about the practice of demolishing homes as a form of collective punishment, which is considered unjust in a civilized society. The actions of a few individuals should not result in the disproportionate punishment of entire families, including women and children, who may be innocent bystanders. Human rights organizations and civil society groups have criticised this rampant ‘bulldozer justice’.

The demolition of Muslim houses in Madhya Pradesh has sparked outrage across the country, with activists, lawyers, politicians and civil society groups condemning the action as unjust, illegal and driven by Islamophobia.

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi strongly reacted on Twitter, drawing parallels with the 2015 Akhlaq lynching case over alleged beef possession. He accused the Madhya Pradesh government of demolishing 11 houses on the pretext of beef storage in refrigerators, calling it a continuation of injustice against Muslims.

“Those who used to get crowds to do this work are now doing it themselves. The Madhya Pradesh government accused some Muslims of having beef in their refrigerators and bulldozed 11 houses. The series of injustice does not stop,” Owaisi wrote.

Journalist and IIT Research Scholar Aasif Mujtaba termed the demolitions as “the biggest oppressive tool against Muslims in India.” He highlighted that despite Muslims forming only 6.5% of Madhya Pradesh’s population, their establishments are often bulldozed over minor issues, calling it “executive excess and state-sponsored terror on its minority.”

Dr. Ilyas SQR, President of the World Peace Institute and an AIMPLB spokesman, labelled the incident as “State Terror!” on Twitter.

Prominent Islamic scholar Samiullah Khan took to Twitter, lambasting the incident as “blatant injustice and HATE against Muslims.” He stated, “#Islamophobia_In India. This is from Mandla, Madhya Pradesh India, The houses of 11 Muslim families were bulldozed before the Eid festival, after police allegedly found beef stored in refrigerators.! This is blatant injustice and HATE against Muslims, this Trend of Bulldozer is barbarism!”

Khan drew parallels with incidents in Telangana, where people preparing for Eid were attacked by BJP supporters, highlighting the mental torture the Muslim community endures during festivals in “this new India of BJP.”

Delhi-based lawyer and activist Kawalpreet Kaur echoed similar sentiments, stating, “Beef or no beef – Demolition is unjust, cruel and illegal. Seems, Madhya Pradesh wants to outdo Uttar Pradesh in Bulldozer Raj. Court must order for rebuilding of their houses immediately, compensation to families and action against officials who ordered demolition.”

Lawyer Sajid Bukhari called the demolitions a “selective communal” gift Indian Muslims are receiving on Eid from the Madhya Pradesh government, expressing solidarity with the affected families.

However, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Dr. Mohan Yadav earlier issued a stern warning, stating that atrocities against cows would not be tolerated at any cost. He justified the demolition of 11 houses and six warehouses belonging to “11 encroachers” in Bhaisawahi village of Mandla district, where police claimed to have rescued around 150 cows. Yadav warned of strict action against those committing atrocities against cows.

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