The district administration of Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city on Wednesday started demolishing parts of around 80 houses along a road in Chandan Khedi village, a day after communal clashes took place in the area, The Times of India reported.
As the Congress raised questions about the timing of the demolition, the district authorities clarified that it was done to widen the roads. “We have started removing 10-ft-wide portions of around 80 structures situated on either side of the lane for widening of a road in Chandankhedi village,” Pratul Sinha, the sub-divisional magistrate of Depalpur Tehsil, told The Times of India.“Locals are also helping us and removing the hurdles on their own to pave way for development work.”
Indore District Congress President Satish Yadav asked why the authorities chose to carry out demolition in the violence-affected area. “We strongly object to the timing of the administration’s removal drive for so called road widening work,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “Many proposals of road widening are pending across the district, why did the administration choose this road? The people involved in the stone pelting should be punished but people of a particular community should not be punished for that.”
Unidentified residents told The Times of India that the authorities informed them about the demolition drive just hours before it began. They said that they were not against development, but such projects must be carried out without biases.
Meanwhile, Indore BJP President Rajesh Sonkar backed the demolition drive and said that it should not be seen as targeting a particular community. “It’s the main road of Chandankhedi village, which connects it with many other villages,” he said. “Widening of the same road was a long pending demand.”
Violence broke out in the Chandan Kheri area on Tuesday when members of Hindutva groups shouted slogans in front of a mosque. The groups were conducting a rally in the Muslim-dominated village to collect donations for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Around 200 people chanted Hanuman Chalisa and “Jai Shri Ram” slogans outside the mosque when prayers were being offered inside, officials said. This led to a heated exchange between Hindus and Muslims, and to stone pelting, the police said. Some members from the rally hoisted saffron flags and climbed the mosque and tried to damage the minaret, witnesses said. Videos also showed the Hindutva group members trying to damage nearby houses and vehicles.
Prohibitory orders were imposed in several gram panchayats in the district. The Madhya Pradesh Police detained 24 people in connection with the clashes.
The clashes in Chandan Khedi came three days after a similar incident was reported in Ujjain’s Begum Bagh area. During a rally by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, similar slogan-chanting and stone-pelting incidents were reported. The police have arrested 15 people so far, all residents of Begum Bagh. No participants of this rally have been arrested so far.