The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday razed around 40 shops on Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai a day after the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) arbitrarily razed at least 15 structures of Muslims at Haidary Chowk on Mira Road in Thane district.
The demolitions by MBMC on Tuesday carried out in the same area where violent Hindutva celebrations of Ram temple inauguration confronted with Muslims.
According to BMC officials, all the structures that were brought down on Mohammed Ali Road were illegal encroachments and were pulled down to free up space on the footpaths, Indian Express reported.
None of them received any prior notices regarding the demolition.
The razed shops are located on Ibrahim Mohamed Merchant Road and stalls of hawkers were also demolished by BMC officials.
Some of the important commercial entities affected by the drive include Noorani Milk Centre and Suleman Usman Mithaiwala, 90-year-old popular and legendary sweet shops in Mumbai.
“At present there are local drives being taken up in all municipal wards as part of CM’s ‘deep cleaning’ drive. For which, we are removing small roadside eateries and vendors to ensure the pavements stay clean. This drive has been operational since first week of December,” an official from BMC’s removal of encroachment department said to IE.
However, there were no reports of any such drive by the civic body in any other wards in Mumbai.
The shop owners believe they were targeted due to their Muslim identity, citing a similar incident in Mira Road.
In Mira Road, residents told Maktoob that their shops were arbitrarily razed by the MBMC authorities in the aftermath of Hindutva violence.
“BMC bulldozes 40 structures in Muslim-dominated Mohammed Ali Road. This, just a day after BMC razed 15 structures in Mira Road. No prior notice or intimation was given to the residents. This is a message the BJP govt is sending to Muslims that they have no rights in @narendramodi’s India!” said Congress’s spokesperson Dr. Shama Mohamed.
On Mira Road demolitions, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar said: “The Mira Road bulldozer politics orchestrated by Eknath Shinde and BJP-led Maharashtra government is petty to say the least. It is designed to escalate oppression and perpetuate an environment of fear and helplessness among the minorities.”
He further said: “If the structures were indeed illegal, then a due process, rule of law and justice has to be followed. It was not just the shops and houses that are being razed down but the Constitution as well.”
Samajwadi Party MLA from Bhiwandi, Rais Shaikh said to IE: “The government is doing all this because elections are coming. They single out one particular community and they think that by doing so they would be able to please the other one. But they are mistaken. This would in fact go against them. Maharashtra has been a land of saints.”