COMMUNIST Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat, who approached the Supreme Court against the demolition drive in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, termed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s actions a “communal political game plan”. Karat, who could be seen standing in front of bulldozers, blocking them from demolishing more properties on Wednesday, has become the face of resistance against the North MCD action.
The Supreme Court on Thursday, April 21, extended for two weeks the order to maintain status quo on Jahangirpuri demolitions. The court was hearing petitions challenging the demolition drive carried out by the North MCD. “We will take a serious view of all demolitions that took place after the Supreme Court decision was communicated to the Mayor,” the Supreme Court said.
Earlier on April 20, while the Supreme Court had ordered that “status-quo” be maintained, the demolition drive carried on till the Apex court had to direct its Secretary-General to convey the order to the officials to stop the demolition in the area which had witnessed communal riots on April 16.
In conversation with India Ahead, Karat pointed out the “bulldozer politics of the BJP-RSS”. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leads the three municipal corporations in Delhi, while the Hindu right-wing group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is their ideologue. She said that the BJP’s actions are against the Constitution and the law of the country.
“The main thing is that every citizen of India has the right under our Constitution and law that if they are accused in a case of encroachment, they have to be given a notice, they have to be given an opportunity. This bulldozer politics of the BJP-RSS is that they decide what is illegal, they decide what has to be demolished, they decide what is right or wrong, without any reference to the Constitution, to the law and to the guarantee of democratic rights to our citizens.”
The communal riots that took place on April 16 is bein seen as one of the major reasons why the BJP-led civic body decided to conduct demolition, of what they say were encroachments, in a Muslim-dominated area.
Karat, time and again, used the term “selective” when speaking about the actions of the BJP. In the case of Jahangirpuri, she pointed to where the demolition took place. She said, “Even assuming that it’s illegal (encroachments), why only C-block? All the blocks in Jahingirpuri have poor families and lower-middle-class families. After the pandemic, with no jobs, these people started small shops in front of their houses, if you think that’s illegal if you think that’s going to destroy this country well then give notice and take action.”
She also claimed that what the North MCD did was selectively pick one block, while leaving out the others. Hitting out at the North MCD, she said, “You’ve only done it in one block and the same structure in every other block you haven’t touched. What does this show? That you’re neither interested in the law nor are you interested in anything called encroachment, you are only interested in your agenda, which happens to be a communal agenda and you are selecting to intimidate, bully and terrorize a community, that is not acceptable to the majority of this country.”
Karat said, “While the civic body defends its decision as a routine and simultaneously saying that it has on three separate occasions in February and April taken out anti-encroachments drives, but what is of importance to note here is that only in this case from April 20, had the Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta written to North MCD mayor Raja Iqbal Singh to run bulldozers over rioters.”
In the letter to Singh, Gupta had said, “Illegal encroachment done by these rioters should be identified and there should be bulldozers run over it.”
Karat said that this and the events seen in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where bulldozers have been run over what the governments there (BJP run) presume to be riot mongers, without due process being followed, is the “bulldozer politics of the BJP-RSS”.
“They have brought this Madhya Pradesh bulldozers, the Uttar Pradesh bulldozers, this is their bulldozer policy, because the BJP and RSS do not believe in the Constitution or the law,” she said.
Interestingly, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led government in Delhi has come out accusing the BJP of harbouring Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis, alleging that they use them for riots. Raghav Chaddha who is now an MP said, “BJP has settled these Bangladeshis and Rohingyas in Delhi and use them to cause riots. If one wants to know when the BJP plans to create the next riot, ask them to give a list of places where they have settled Bangladeshis and Rohingyas.”
Karat rubbished such accusations and said that the comments speak the narrative of the BJP. “As far as the residents of C-Block are concerned they are Bengali-speaking Muslims, who have lived there for decades. Personally, I can tell you when Jahingirpuri was first established, I was working in a part of North Delhi as a Trade Unionist in the textile workers union. When all the jhuggi’s were demolished, and Jahingirpuri was established. Right from the beginning, C-block was the block for Bengali speaking Muslims because they were all in Jhuggi clusters, and they were given land there. So, I personally know this area and for any party to now say and swallow the narrative of the BJP it is absolutely appalling.”