“Justice of the Bulldozers” in India

In recent days, there have been major protests in various Indian cities against the demolition of houses and businesses belonging to Muslims. The demolition operations were decided by the governments of several Indian states to punish people who had previously participated in anti-government demonstrations. The term “bulldozer justice” has spread in local Indian newspapers to define the policies pursued by nationalist state governments, backed by the central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Hindu nationalist), who has long sought to systematically target, intimidate and discriminate against Muslims. . minority in the country.

On Sunday, authorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India ordered the demolition of the house of Javed Ahmad, a Muslim activist and theologian who was arrested the day before accused of being part of some violent protests. The demonstrations were organized on Friday to protest some offensive remarks against Islam and Muhammad made by two spokesmen for Prime Minister Modi, from the nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), which had also attracted widespread criticism from the governments of some Islamic countries.

The previous week, other homes and properties of Muslim people who had been involved in anti-government protests in Uttar Pradesh had been demolished. In April, bulldozers were used in New Delhi to tear down shops run by Muslims, who were accused of throwing stones at Hindus during massive clashes in the Jahangirpuri neighborhood. Similar episodes had also occurred in other states, such as Madhya Pradesh.

Muslim Indians, about 14 percent of India’s population, have been systematically subjected to various forms of discrimination in recent years. According to some important human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, both Modi and the very conservative BJP have advocated oppression and violence against them.

Hindu monk and ultranationalist Yogi Adityanath, elected in March for a second term as governor of Uttar Pradesh, was nicknamed the “bulldozer guru” precisely because he threatened to use excavators to destroy the homes of people suspected of being involved in crime. activities. Due to their use, however, excavators have become a major symbol of Indian nationalism and the oppression of the Muslim minority. On Saturday, a political adviser from Adityanath posted on Twitter a picture of a bulldozer with a not-too-veiled threat: “To all the people protesting, remember that after every Friday comes a Saturday.”

In recent days, 12 public figures, including former Indian Supreme Court judges and lawyers, have written a letter to the president of the court accusing the Uttar Pradesh government of wanting to suppress dissent by using violence against those protesting and condemning the demolition. them “A form of illegal collective extrajudicial punishment”.

Government officials who have ordered the use of bulldozers claim that only the squatter buildings have been destroyed, but according to the Muslim community and human rights organizations, this would be a false justification. “If the buildings were illegal, why did the government wait to demolish them only after the protests?” asked Shaukat Ali, a politician from All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, a party that fights for the rights of Muslim people.

– Also read: The important elections in India’s largest state

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