A Supreme Court judgement today halted an anti-encroachment operation in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, which has been tense since last week’s communal violence, but not before a bulldozer bulldozed structures near the mosque at the centre of Saturday’s dispute.
Supreme Court scheduled an urgent hearing for tomorrow
Following a petition, the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the demolition of businesses and other structures in the violence-plagued neighbourhood and scheduled an urgent hearing for tomorrow.
The demolition, however, continued despite the Supreme Court’s ruling. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation‘s Mayor, Raja Iqbal Singh, stated that they had not yet received the order and that they would continue to remove illegal structures until they did.
Lawyer Dushyant Dave filed a complaint with the Supreme Court as an excavator continued to demolish the mosque’s gates and nearby stores amid escalating tensions in the region. The court judgement “must be communicated to officials immediately,” according to Chief Justice NV Ramana.
Brinda Karat, a top CPM leader, arrived in the area around the same time with a physical copy of the directive. “We ask Jahangirpuri residents to maintain peace,” she added as the demolition stopped.
Nine bulldozers arrived in the neighbourhood this morning and began demolishing stores and other properties in the midst of a large police presence. The anti-encroachment operation was authorised when Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta wrote to the mayor, requesting that he locate and dismantle unlawful structures built by “rioters.”
While the mayor described it as a “regular exercise,” the timing of the order, particularly given it came after the BJP’s chief letter, raised suspicions about political motivations.
Petitioners urged the Supreme Court that this action followed a trend seen in areas like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where one community was targeted for demolition after communal conflicts.
No notification was given to residents prior to the drive, according to residents. The city authority had requested at least 400 police officers for the two-day anti-encroachment operation yesterday.
Since Saturday’s communal clashes, when a Hanuman Jayanti procession that did not have authorization walked a path alongside a mosque, police have been keeping a close eye on Jahangirpuri. Nine individuals were hurt in the incident, including eight police officers, during which two groups threw stones at each other and shots were fired.
So far, 25 people have been arrested in connection with the riots. Five of them have been charged under the National Security Act, which allows them to be held without charge for up to a year.