Around 1,208 structures, overwhelmingly owned by Muslims, were subjected to arbitrary demolition over a five-day period by Haryana authorities following the violence that broke out in Nuh during a Hindu procession by Hindutva groups VHP and Bajrang Dal on 31 July.
These demolitions took place across a single district, Nuh, encompassing 11 towns and hamlets, spanning 37 sites and covering 72.1 acres, according to Hindustan Times.
Official records indicate that the razed properties were located in various cities and villages, including Nuh, Nalhar, Punhana, Tauru, Nangal Mubarakpur, Shahpur, Aagon, Adbar Chowk, Nalhar Road, Tiranga Chowk, and Nagina.
The impact of these demolitions was widespread, affecting over a thousand Muslims, including Rohingya refugees and migrant laborers.
Those whose properties were destroyed received no prior notice or information from the authorities before the demolition drive commenced.
“I was given the notice around 4 pm when I was getting ready to leave for work. They said they would demolish my home in two days, but half an hour later, a bulldozer came. The forest department officer asked me to get my things out,” Indian Express quotes Aas Mohammad, a 56 year old Muslim man who works as a hospital guard, as saying.
“We were not home when two notices were stuck on our doors. Since we can’t read English, we went to a nearby house and they said the order stated that houses will be demolished in seven days,” said 16-year-old Barfeena.
Had it not been for the Punjab & Haryana High Court’s intervention on August 7, the numbers of demolished structures would likely have been higher.
The court questioned the state’s potential engagement in “ethnic cleansing” due to the one-sided nature of the demolitions before issuing a stay order.
“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,” said the division bench of Justice G.S Sandhawalia and Justice Harpreet Kaur Jeewan.
The HC further stated that “State of Haryana is using force and is demolishing buildings on account of the fact that some riots have occurred in Gurugram and Nuh.”
The HC took suo motu cognizance of news paper reports regarding the ongoing demolition drive in Nuh, Gurgaon which followed the violence.
While noting that news reports also say that the Haryana’s Home Minister himself has said that bulldozer are part of illaj (treatment) since the Government is probing violence, the HC remarked that, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The demolitions come after the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had indicated that bulldozer action will be taken in Haryana on the lines of Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh. Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij also said “bulldozers too will be used, if need be”.