Supreme Court must stop demolition of over 4,000 Muslim-owned homes in Uttarakhand, say Indian Americans
IAMC condemns the planned mass demolition of thousands of Muslim-owned homes
Washington, D.C. (January 4, 2023) – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a US-based nonprofit organization dedicated to social justice, peace, and pluralism, strongly condemns the planned demolition of over 4,000 Muslim homes and dwellings in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, a state ruled by Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
IAMC further urges the Indian Supreme Court, that will hear a batch of petitions challenging the order, to ensure that the state government is not allowed to continue with its punitive demolitions, which are in direct violation of international human rights law.
Last month, the Uttarakhand High Court ordered these demolitions while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Ravi Shankar Joshi in 2013. Joshi is a known Islamophobe and a sympathizer of the fascist paramilitary group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The court, while passing an order on Joshi’s PIL, claimed that the families were “unauthorized occupants” living on “encroached” land belonging to the Indian Railways. However, residents have been able to prove this claim as blatantly false through sale deeds and copies of leases, further cementing the residents as rightful owners of their properties.
Moreover, the court ordered the demolition drive despite pending appeals against the false encroachment claims by several residents.
Local authorities have announced that bulldozers will “pounce on encroachers” while overseen by 7,000 police officers and 15 paramilitary groups, who will likely use violent tactics to brutalize Muslims who attempt to defend their homes.
Thousands of Muslims from across the city are currently holding protests, sit-ins, and candlelight vigils, demanding that the demolition of their homes be stopped.
“The fact that the top court of Uttarakhand has allowed Hindu supremacists to succeed in advocating for over 4,000 Muslim families to lose everything, from their homes to their businesses to their schools, is utterly inhumane and reprehensible. The order also shows the pervasiveness of Hindutva ideology on India’s top courts,” said Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of IAMC.
“This demolition drive should be internationally condemned as an act of state-sponsored violence against thousands of Muslim men, women, and children,” Ahmed added.