Skip to main content

Bulldozing houses in UP: India isn't Israel, Muslims living here 'aren't Palestinians'

By Naveen Tewari, Sandeep Pandey* 

A recent full front page of the advertisement by a Bhartiya Janata Party government declares, 'House is not just a word. It is a place where power to dream comes and aspirations are fulfilled. Home is much about dignity and security than it is about shelter.' It further goes on to quote Narendra Modi, 'It is my dream that every Indian has a pucca house by 2022.' The occasion was dedication of houses built by a private builder Balaji to the poor.
Having witnessed over the past few days the now iconic picture of a bulldozer running down the Prayagraj house of parents of female Muslim student and activist Afreen Fatima, who participated in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens protests, one is almost tempted to look for a fine print at the bottom of the page to the effect that the promise of house is subject to the condition that one doesn't participate in any anti-government protest otherwise there is a danger of bulldozers coming over.
A house built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana by Hasina Fakhroo was demolished by administration following clashes during a Ram Navami procession in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh in April earlier this year.
Riot police and paramilitary forces are deployed by all governments to control mob violence. These forces use all kinds of weapons and deterrents to enforce law and order. The hauling up and arrest of culprits inciting violence or leading mobs to challenge the authority of the state is a follow up action which ends in trials and sentencing of the guilty.
The state of Uttar Pradesh has found a new weapon to deal with the violators who pose a challenge to the authority of the state namely, the Bulldozer! Yogi Adityanath alone knows from whose book of criminal jurisprudence this leaf has been taken out.
At least it is difficult to find an example anywhere in the world barring the sole exception of Israel where the government is in constant conflict with the Palestinian population. The Palestinian land is forcibly taken over to build Jewish settlements and Palestinians are subjected to brutal repression when they resist.
The law in India is not based on the whims and impulses of any leader. It is a strictly codified framework with inflexible procedures and defined limits to its application. Rule of law is not the writ or diktat of a ruler but it is based on the Constitution and the laws that are framed by the legislature are within the structure of the Constitution.
Even the most archaic laws like the Sharia have definite punishment for every particular crime. Chopping of hands and beheading may appear to be repulsive and uncivilised to us but they are based on some penal code. Even the Taliban Government would not go beyond the scope of Sharia to punish the guilty by boiling them in water or chopping them piece by piece or sawing them vertically!
Here in India, in full view of the whole nation including the Supreme Court and High Courts, a Chief Minister is setting an example of how to be a law unto himself! We are shocked by the absence of any reaction to this outrageous and audacious act by the media, intellectuals and activists who are perhaps keeping quiet out of fear of the same bulldozers knocking on their doors.
It is further appalling that the spineless judges, who sit on the benches of constitutional courts flaunting their unlimited powers and authority in front of a common citizen litigant, lose their hammer and tongue at a ghastly manifestation of mockery of justice in full public view.
In full view of Supreme Court and High Courts, a Chief Minister is setting an example of how to be a law unto himself
Where is the civil society in this country? Is there any? Is there any civilised society at all? What kind of people can watch this naked dance of sham democracy which is more of an oppressive dictatorship rather than anything else?
India is not Israel and Muslims living here are not Palestinians (though there is no justification even for the Israeli government’s inhuman actions). Muslims are our own countrymen living under the same Constitution which treats every person (not merely citizens) equal before law.
If a Muslim has built a house illegally it does not mean that it can be demolished without due legal process while the Hindus constructing multi-storied buildings and colonies, in violation of the law, will enjoy immunity.
It is not that bulldozers were not used earlier to demolish houses or kiosks of street vendors. In fact, quite frequently administrations of governments all over the country have demolished settlements of poor, mostly migrants from rural areas or other states, who come to cities in search of livelihood and set up their jhuggis or kiosks on some government land.
Recently hundreds of families have been uprooted in Ahmedabad city who were living for more than a couple of decades next to Railway tracks. In these instances as well the Constitution and Court directives are violated but the governments justify it on some grounds. What is new is selective political targeting now, especially by the BJP governments.
The government of Uttar Pradesh is writing a novel book on crime and punishment. But even this book will not be the final code because once we go on this path of degeneration. Every other ruler who comes to rule will enjoy the privilege of acting upon his own whims and fancies.
Yogi Adityanath should just remember the day when he had wept in the Parliament eeling his life under threat merely because the then district administration of Gorakhpur had arrested him for a brief period. He is doing worse things to people.
The UP government has promulgated a law ‘Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020’ which aims to recover the damages to any property during any agitation from the accused persons. A Claims Tribunal will determine the recovery amount and its decision cannot be challenged in any court.
Moreover, the burden of proof lies on the accused to prove himself/herself innocent. This is another example of high handed manner in which the Yogi government has been treating dissenters.
A question that we would like to pose is if demolishing anybody’s house is proved to be illegal by a court later, shouldn’t the officials who ordered the demolition in first place not be subjected to a law similar to the abovementioned one. If citizens can be held accountable for damage to property, why should not the officials be?
---
*Naveen Tewari is entrepreneur-activist; Magsaysay award winning social activist-academic, Sandeep Pandey is general secretary of Socialist Party (India)

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w