Why is Amnesty International urging India to stop bulldozing Muslim property? | Religion News
Amnesty International has called on Indian authorities to immediately stop “unlawful” demolitions of Muslim properties, as it released two new reports describing the targeting of homes, businesses and places of worship in several states belonging to the minority community.
The organization described the demolitions as a form of extrajudicial punishment, and demanded adequate compensation for all those affected by the demolitions, which led to the displacement of hundreds of people, most of them Muslims, and the destruction of their livelihoods.
The London-based human rights organization also called on construction equipment company JCB, whose bulldozers were widely used in “punitive” demolitions, to “publicly condemn the use of its equipment to commit human rights violations.”
Below are the main points of the reports.
What do the reports say about India’s bulldozer policy?
The reports, titled “The Injustice of Bulldozers in India” and “JCB’s Role and Responsibility in the Injustice of Bulldozers in India,” document the demolitions of at least 128 properties between April and June 2022. Amnesty International says the demolitions The bulldozer attacks left at least 617 people either homeless or their livelihoods destroyed.
It says authorities in five states – Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi – carried out demolitions as “punishment” following incidents of religious violence or Muslim protest against discriminatory government policies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party, which has been accused of using anti-Muslim rhetoric, governs four of the five states.
“The unlawful destruction of Muslim property by Indian authorities, promoted by political leaders and the media as ‘bulldozer justice’, is cruel and appalling,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “They are destroying families – and they must stop immediately.” . In a statement on Wednesday.
“The authorities have repeatedly undermined the rule of law, destroying homes, businesses or places of worship, through targeted campaigns of hate, harassment and violence, and using JCB bulldozers as a weapon. These human rights violations must be urgently addressed.”
Last month, the homes and properties of Muslims Demolished by bulldozers in Mumbai’s financial centre After communal violence broke out following the opening of a Ram temple by Modi in the city of Ayodhya in northern Uttar Pradesh. The temple was built on the spot where the 16th-century Babri Mosque once stood until 1992, when it was demolished by Hindu mobs.
Last year, more than 300 Muslim properties were demolished after sectarian violence on the outskirts of the Indian capital, New Delhi. in 2021A 100-year-old mosque was demolished in the Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, while a 100-year-old mosque was demolished in the Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, while 2023A 16th-century mosque was destroyed in the city of Prayagraj, also in Uttar Pradesh, as part of a road widening project.
Analysts say the bulldozers have become a symbol of the persecution of Muslims in India, especially after Yogi Adityanath – the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, known for his anti-Muslim bigotry – began a policy of destroying the property of those accused of crimes to achieve immediate justice. But legal experts say due process is the biggest casualty of this new phenomenon popular among the Hindu far right.
Since Modi took office as prime minister in 2014, attacks against Muslims and their livelihoods have increased, with dozens of Muslims executed over allegations of cow smuggling.
What did the BJP government say?
BJP leaders widely celebrate the demolitions – so much so that bulldozers have appeared in election campaigns for ruling party candidates. They claim that the demolitions are carried out against encroachments and target buildings owned by criminals or gangsters.
The authorities denied targeting the Muslim community.
BJP spokesperson Raman Malik Tell Al Jazeera said following the demolitions in August that the dredging was being done only to remove illegal encroachments. But human rights groups noted that Islamic properties were overwhelmingly targeted.
Is dredging legal?
Civil society members, activists and opposition politicians believe that the destruction of buildings is a deliberate form of targeted violence against minority communities such as Muslims.
Brinda Karat of the Communist Party of India opposed the demolitions in Delhi, saying bulldozers were being used to deliberately target Muslims under the guise of removing encroachments.
Amnesty International said in its report that the demolitions were carried out without following due legal procedures. The occupants of the buildings were not warned before the demolitions or given sufficient time to leave their properties and salvage their belongings. Amnesty International interviewed 75 survivors of the demolition. Among them, only six received any form of prior notification from the authorities.
“The case also raises whether buildings belonging to a particular community are being demolished under the guise of law and order problem and ethnic cleansing is being practiced by the state,” the Punjab and Haryana High Court said. He said In the wake of Demolition in Nuh on the outskirts of New Delhi.
The court also decided that due legal procedures had not been carried out before the demolition campaign. No advance notices were issued to people who lost their property.
The Amnesty International report said that India is a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, under which it is obligated to respect and fulfill the right to adequate subsistence, “which includes the right to adequate housing, the right to work and the right to social security.”
Is the JCB bulldozer company responsible?
Amnesty International found that bulldozers manufactured by UK-based excavators Joseph Cyril Bamford (JCB) are commonly used to carry out such demolitions.
JCB bulldozers are such a visible part of demolition operations in India that ‘JCB’ and ‘bulldozer’ are used interchangeably, the report added. The punitive dredging using JCB machines has been praised among BJP leaders. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao had called the JCB a “jihadist control board” in April 2022 in a now-deleted X post.
“Under international standards, JCB is responsible for tackling what third-party buyers do with its equipment. The company must stop turning a blind eye to the use of JCB machines to target and punish the Muslim community… JCB cannot continue to Evading responsibility while its devices are repeatedly used to commit human rights violations.” “The company must publicly condemn the use of its devices to commit human rights violations.”
Amnesty International cited the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which hold that government companies are responsible for respecting human rights and must avoid contributing to human rights violations. The report said JCB is responsible for determining whether its equipment has been used in punitive demolitions and adding clauses to its sales contracts that mitigate human rights violations.
In response to Amnesty International’s letter to JCB, a legal firm acting on behalf of the company made several arguments to distance JCB from human rights abuses in India.
There is no direct link between JCB and the alleged human rights violations, the company said, adding that most of its devices are sold by JCB India through independent dealers.
The law firm also said that JCB cannot control the use of its products once they are sold to customers and that JCB has no influence over those who use its products or its dealer network.
This is not the first time Amnesty International has condemned JCB’s complicity in human rights violations. In November 2021, another Amnesty International report showed dozens of specific incidents in which Israeli authorities used JCB machines to demolish Palestinian-owned residential and agricultural buildings. JCB denied selling any machines to the Israeli government or contractors carrying out demolition operations in Palestine.
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