The Indian authorities must immediately stop their discriminatory policy of using demolition drives to target Muslims, Amnesty International India said a day after a civic body in Maharashtra’s Thane district bulldozed 15 structures.

On Tuesday, the civic body in Mira-Bhayandar, a municipality near Mumbai, bulldozed “illegal” structures in the Naya Nagar area of Mira Road where communal violence was reported on Sunday night ahead of the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

An activist from the area told Scroll that the structures belonged to Muslims. However, he said that they were not related to the 13 persons who had been arrested in connection with the communal clashes on Sunday night and Monday morning.

On the other hand, Maruti Gaikwad, deputy municipal commissioner in Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation, had said that the structures were demolished as they were “on nullah and on footpaths”.

Following the demolitions, Aakar Patel, the chair of board at Amnesty International India, said that the “impunity with which the Indian authorities have been enforcing their discriminatory de facto policy of arbitrarily and punitively demolishing Muslim properties following episodes of communal violence” was alarming.

“Such unlawful action against people suspected of violence, allegedly without notice or other due process requirements is a major blow to the rule of law,” he said, calling for safeguards against forced evictions to be put in place.

Patel added: “The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a state party, prohibits forced evictions. Adequate compensation must be offered to all those affected without discrimination, ensure that victims have access to effective remedy, and those responsible are held to account.”

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of civic authorities in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states demolishing ostensibly illegal properties of those accused of crime. There are no provisions in law that provide for demolishing property as a punitive measure.

Communal clashes had broken out in Naya Nagar on Sunday night when a group of men on vehicles drove in a procession while wieldding saffron flags and shouting religious slogans. The group was attacked by a mob from the neighbourhood, an unidentified senior police official had told The Hindu.

On Monday, the day of the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, members of some Hindutva groups allegedly targeted parked autorickshaws in the area and threw stones, according to The Times of India.

A day after the demolition drive in Naya Nagar, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Wednesday bulldozed nearly 40 structures on Mohammed Ali Road, a Muslim-dominated locality about 45 kms away from Naya Nagar in South Mumbai, The Indian Express reported.

The Ram temple in Ayodhya was inaugurated on Monday in a ceremony led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The temple in Ayodhya is being built on the site of the Babri mosque, which was demolished by Hindutva extremists on December 6, 1992, because they believed that it stood on the spot on which the deity Ram had been born. The incident had triggered communal riots across the country.

Also read: