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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Fortnight after Ram Navami clash, demolition drive begins in Gujarat

According to the police, the properties demolished were not linked to any of the accused in the communal clashes that occurred in the area on April 10.

Written by Vaibhav Jha | Ahmedabad |
Updated: April 27, 2022 8:10:49 am
According to the police, the properties demolished were not linked to any of the accused in the communal clashes that occurred in the area on April 10. (Express/Nirmal Harindran)

IN THE wake of similar crackdowns in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, the civic body in Gujarat’s Himmatnagar town demolished shacks, kiosks and a portion of a shop building on Tuesday as part of an “anti-encroachment” drive in a locality that had witnessed communal clashes during Ram Navami processions this month.

“In today’s anti-encroachment drive, we removed 3-4 kiosks, 2-3 shanties and a two-storey shop building on T P Road in Chhaparia,” said Navneet Patel, who is the chief municipal officer of Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district.

“About three metres of the 15-metre road was encroached on by the building owners who had extended the illegal construction. We had sent notices in 2020. It was a routine anti-encroachment drive and nothing to do with the incidents that occurred on April 10. We will continue to take similar action in other areas as well,” Patel said.

According to the police, the properties demolished were not linked to any of the accused in the communal clashes that occurred in the area on April 10. “On Tuesday, police bandobast was arranged after the civic body informed us of the anti-encroachment drive. It has nothing to do with the riot accused,” Sabarkantha SP Vishal Vaghela said.

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The two-storey building belongs to Ashrafnagar Jamaat, a local socio-religious organisation in Himmatnagar. Speaking to The Indian Express, Kalumiya Shaikh, a member of the jamaat, said: “The building had a cigarette shop, an electricity repair shop and a groceries shop. It is correct that the municipality had sent us a notice in 2020 regarding a three-metre extension. On Monday, local officials told us about the drive. Today, we helped them remove the extended portion.”

According to the police, the properties demolished were not linked to any of the accused in the communal clashes that occurred in the area on April 10. (Express/Nirmal Haridaran)

On April 10, communal clashes broke out in Chhaparia during Ram Navami processions, leading to stone-pelting, rioting and arson that lasted for three-four hours. The police fired several tear gas shells to disperse the crowd, and arrested 22 persons.

On April 11, stone-pelting was reported in the Vanzaravas area of Himmatnagar after which police arrested 10 persons from the locality.

On April 15, five days after communal clashes took place in Khambhat town of Gujarat’s Anand during a Ram Navami procession, which resulted in the death of one person, the district administration conducted an anti-encroachment drive in the Shakarpur area and demolished 7-8 kiosks.

“On Tuesday, police bandobast was arranged after the civic body informed us of the anti-encroachment drive. It has nothing to do with the riot accused,” Sabarkantha SP Vishal Vaghela said. (Express)

Over the last month, demolition drives in areas hit by communal violence were witnessed in MP and Delhi.

On April 11, a day after communal clashes erupted during a Ram Navami procession in Khargone in MP, the local administration demolished at least 20 houses and shops in four localities.

On April 20, following communal clashes during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in north Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, authorities from the BJP-ruled municipal body demolished parts of several structures, including the exterior gate of a place of worship.

In UP, the demolition of houses allegedly to target those named in records as gangsters prompted Opposition parties to label Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as “bulldozer baba” in the run-up to the state elections this year — the BJP went on to win the polls comprehensively.

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