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Delhi Demolition Stopped, Supreme Court Hearing Today: 10 Developments

New Delhi:
An anti-encroachment drive in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, tense after last week’s communal clashes, was stopped following a Supreme Court order today but not before a bulldozer razed structures near the mosque at the centre of Saturday’s clash.

Here are the 10 latest developments:

  1. Shortly after bulldozers started razing shops and other structures in the violence-hit area, the Supreme Court, acting on a petition, ordered a halt and an urgent hearing today.

  2. But even after the court’s order, the demolition continued for nearly two hours. The Mayor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Raja Iqbal Singh, said they had yet to receive the order and would continue their job of removing illegal structures until they did.

  3. As an excavator went on to tear down the gates of the mosque and shops near it amid rising tension in the area, lawyer Dushyant Dave complained to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice NV Ramana directed that the court order “must be communicated immediately to officials”.

  4. Around the same time, senior CPM leader Brinda Karat reached the area with a physical copy of the order. As the demolition stopped, she said: “We appeal to Jahangirpuri residents to maintain peace.”

  5. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation, in a statement, said the anti-encroachment drive was an attempt to clear pedestrian walkways and roads to ease the traffic and pedestrian movement. “Such encroachment removal drives on public roads is done regularly in all wards /Zones by North DMC with/without notice under section 321/322/323/325 of the MCD Act, 1957 with prior intimation to local police,” the statement read.

  6. This morning, nine bulldozers rolled into the locality and started razing shops and other structures amid heavy police presence. The anti-encroachment exercise was ordered after Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta wrote to the mayor, asking him to identify illegal constructions by “rioters” and demolish them.

  7. While the mayor termed it a “routine exercise”, the timing of the order, especially since it came after the BJP’s chief letter, prompted questions regarding political motives.

  8. Petitioners told the Supreme Court that this action followed a familiar pattern like in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where, after communal clashes, one community was targeted with demolitions.

  9. Residents said no notice was served before the drive. The civic body had yesterday sought a force of at least 400 police personnel for the two-day anti-encroachment drive.

  10. Police have been keeping vigil in Jahangirpuri since Saturday’s communal clash that broke out when a Hanuman Jayanti procession that did not have permission took a route alongside a mosque. Nine people, including eight policemen, were injured in the violence during which two groups threw stones at each other and shots were also fired.

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