Human rights organization Amnesty International stated on Wednesday that the widespread “unlawful demolitions” of Muslims’ homes, businesses, and places of worship, using JCB bulldozers and other machinery must cease immediately.
In two companion reports titled “If you speak up, your house will be demolished: Bulldozer Injustice in India” and “Unearthing Accountability: JCB’s Role and Responsibility in Bulldozer Injustice in India,” the rights group documented the “punitive demolition” of Muslim properties in at least five states, with a prevalent use of JCB-branded bulldozers or diggers as the preferred brand in a hate campaign against the minority community.
Amnesty International called on the Centre and state governments to immediately halt the de facto policy of demolishing people’s homes as a form of extra-judicial punishment and ensure that nobody is made homeless as a result of forced evictions.
“The unlawful demolition of Muslim properties by the Indian authorities, peddled as ‘bulldozer justice’ by political leaders and media, is cruel and appalling,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general.
“Such displacement and dispossession is deeply unjust, unlawful, and discriminatory. They are destroying families—and must stop immediately.”
“The authorities have repeatedly undermined the rule of law, destroying homes, businesses, or places of worship, through targeted campaigns of hate, harassment, violence, and the weaponization of JCB bulldozers. These human rights abuses must be urgently addressed,” he added.
According to Amnesty’s research findings, between April and June 2022, authorities in five states, including BJP-ruled Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-governed state of Delhi, carried out demolition drives as a punitive measure against Muslim protesters following incidents of collective violence or systemic discrimination against them.
Most of the evictions and destruction are carried out under the guise of remedying illegal construction and encroachment.
In spite of the hardships created by the loss of their homes and businesses, victims continue to wait for justice with legal cases pending in courts.
Amnesty’s specialist Evidence Lab has created an interactive digital database showcasing evidence of dozens of punitive demolitions targeting Muslim property using JCB machines, including 360-degree images of the sites, videos, testimonies, court orders, and geospatial data.
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