Opposition parties on Wednesday criticised the demolition drive undertaken by the Bhartiya Janata Party-ruled North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Jahangirpuri area, four days after the locality was hit by communal violence.

As bulldozers razed shops, homes and other structures, the Supreme Court ordered to halt the drive. However, despite the court’s directive, the drive continued for about two hours till Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat brought an electronic copy of the order to the area herself.

In a tweet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pointed out that India only has eight days of coal left, asking the BJP government to “switch off the bulldozers of hate and switch on the the power plants”.

In another tweet, the former Congress president said the exercise was “a demolition of India’s constitutional values”.

He added that the government was targeting the minorities. “BJP must bulldoze the hatred in their hearts instead,” Gandhi wrote.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi compared the demolition drive to Turkman Gate incident of 1976.

“Turkman Gate 2022, history tells you those in power in 1976 are a spent force in present times, this BJP and AAP should be remember,” he wrote on Twitter. “Power is not eternal.”

The Turkman Gate incident refers to the demolition and rioting in 1976 when the police shot and killed people protesting against their houses being razed on the orders of the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government.

Aam Aadmi Party MLA Atishi Marlena said that the BJP was justifying the demolition drive by saying that it would stop violence. She, however, said that the saffron party was responsible for the violence in Delhi as well as across the country.

“In this country, if we want to stop riots and hooliganism, bulldozer should be used on BJP’s headquarters,” she said in a video message.

She also accused Home Minister Amit Shah of fueling violence across the country, adding that his house should be razed too.

Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation leader Kavita Krishnan described the demolition drive as “fascist terror”.

“Doesn’t matter whether or not the demolitions eventually happen this time,” she tweeted. “They’re turning every Muslim home and little mosque into a local Babri Masjid which local fascists can make a project of demolishing.”

Karat, who was seen trying to stop the drive, said that the “law and the Constitution have been bulldozed by illegal demolitions”, reported ANI.

While several politicians have condemned the demolition drive, only CPI(M) leaders – Karat and Hannan Mollah – seemed to be on the ground to stop it.

The demolition drive

The demolition drive was undertaken after Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta’s wrote to North Delhi Municipal Corporation commissioner, asking him to raze the illegal constructions of the “rioters’’ in the Jahangirpuri area.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation had asked the police for at least 400 police personnel to guard the area during the drive.

Nine bulldozers had rolled into the area and started the demolition drive amid heavy security on Wednesday morning.

The drive follows a clash between members of Hindu and Muslim communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in Northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri on April 16. Eight policemen and a civilian were injured in the violence.

A total of 23 people have been arrested and two juveniles have been detained in connection with the violence. The majority of those arrested are Muslims.