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Bulldozer Raj in MP: Houses Of 37 Various Undertrial Accused Demolished in June

The MP High Court in February 2024 had said it had become 'fashionable' for civic authorities to demolish houses.

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Allegations of cow slaughter, alleged attack on police personnel, and murder charges – these are some of the crimes that qualified for demolishing at least 37 houses of undertrial accused across Madhya Pradesh in the month of June alone.

'Bulldozer action', which colloquially refers to the use of heavy machinery by the state to demolish houses or shops of alleged miscreants or gangsters, has been used extensively in Madhya Pradesh over the past few years – first under the leadership of former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and now under Chief Minister Mohan Yadav.

In February 2024, reacting strongly to the bulldozing of houses of the accused in criminal cases, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had remarked that it has become "fashionable" for civic authorities to demolish houses without following due procedure.

Instead of demolishing the houses, orders should be given to regularise the constructions, the court had said, adding that "demolition should be the last resort, that too after giving the homeowner a reasonable opportunity to get it regularised".

Here's a look at the incidents recorded in June.

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1 June, Bhopal

On 17 May, Surendra Kushwaha, an office bearer of the BJP Yuva Morcha, was stabbed to death at the gate of the Bhopal Central Jail. While eight accused have been arrested and are facing trial, the house of one accused Tanjeel Khan was demolished on 1 June, citing illegal construction of a three-storey house without clearance from the authorities.

11 June, Damoh

On 11 June, alleged illegal encroachments outside houses of four habitual criminals were demolished in Kasai Mandi of the Kotwali police station area in Damoh.

"All four accused have been involved in various crimes like disturbing peace, assault, and cow-slaughter. The notice was given five days before taking action against the encroachments," a press release by the police said.

Damoh SP Shrut Kirti Somvanshi, while talking to Quint Hindi, said that these accused were identified on the basis of previous crimes.

"The municipal and revenue teams bulldozed those properties occupied by these criminals that were illegal. There are more such habitual criminals in the district whose encroached properties are being identified and further action may be taken," he said.

The MP High Court in February 2024 had said it had become 'fashionable' for civic authorities to demolish houses.

Meanwhile, brother of one of the accused, Kallu Qureshi, told Quint Hindi that if the administration believed that his brother was involved in cow slaughter, they should have filed a case against him, instead of demolishing their house.

"A case was forcibly made against Kallu Qureshi. His enclosure was built here which is now broken. Now, there is an open field where animals roam around," he claimed.

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14-15 June 2024, Ratlam

A severed head of a calf was thrown inside a Lord Jagannath temple in Ratlam's Jaora town.

The houses of four accused, who were arrested on 14-15 June, were demolished right after their arrests the same day. The four accused, all Muslims, were charged under the National Security Act (NSA) and sent to three months of police custody.

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15 June, Mandla

On 15 June, the police raided 11 houses in the Bhainswahi village over alleged slaughter of cattle and sale of beef.

According to the FIR, the police had received information about the killing of cattle and sale of beef after which the police raided the village at midnight.

The police said that they recovered huge quantities of beef, bones, fat, and other remains from the houses of 11 people. They also confiscated more than 150 cattle, they said.

The administration bulldozed the houses of these 11 Muslim accused, calling the constructions "illegally" made on government land. They added that proper notices were issued to them.

The MP High Court in February 2024 had said it had become 'fashionable' for civic authorities to demolish houses.

Bulldozer action in Bhainswahi village, Mandla.

(Photo: Sourced by Quint Hindi)

Sultana Bi, one of those whose house was demolished by the administration, told The Quint: "They did not find anything in our houses. They ransacked our belongings, opened the fridge, and found nothing. All my things, my Aadhaar card, everything is buried under the debris now."

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18-22 June, Dewas

On 13 June, a police team that had gone to raid outlets of illegal liquor in the Sonkutch block of Dewas district was attacked.

While the houses were being bulldozed, three women, upon seeing their houses being demolished, fainted following protests. They were admitted to a nearby hospital.

On 22 June, in Dewas itself, a house belonging to a Muslim, accused of kidnapping a tribal girl, was bulldozed. The Dewas administration told Quint Hindi that the police have recovered the girl and arrested the accused as well as the girl’s father.

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24 June, Seoni

Between 19 June and 21 June, dead bodies of 65 cows were found in Seoni district. Following this, the police arrested 24 accused. The police said that the accused had come to Seoni from Nagpur to slaughter the cows.

While the District Collector and SP were transferred on 24 June, Seoni's new collector Sanskriti Jain confirmed to Quint Hindi that the houses of three accused were bulldozed.

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25 June, Indore

At midnight on 22 June, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Monu Kalyane was allegedly shot dead in Indore. The police arrested Arjun and Piyush, the two accused in the case, and bulldozed their houses, calling the constructions "illegal".

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26 June, Morena

On 21 June, the police arrested nine people after allegedly recovering beef from their houses in the Noorabad police station area of the Morena district. On 26 June, the houses of three of the accused – Asghar, Jabbar Khan and Iqrar – were bulldozed.

"A notice was issued to these families by the district administration alleging illegal occupation of government land. No reply was given by them. After this, the district administration gave them notice to vacate the government land by 24 June, but they did not. The district administration, with the help of the police, razed those houses to the ground on 26 June," the administration said.

The MP High Court in February 2024 had said it had become 'fashionable' for civic authorities to demolish houses.

Bulldozer action in Morena.

(Photo: Sourced by Quint Hindi)

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'Part of Politics of Hatred'

A closer look at the data of the houses reveals that out of the 37 properties demolished in June, 27 belonged to Muslims.

"There is no such law in the country that says that if someone has committed a crime, you demolish their house. Also, there is a process to prove that someone has committed a crime. But the government has sidelined it. The idea of being innocent until proven guilty has been put aside by the government itself," human rights activist Harsh Mander told Quint Hindi, adding that bulldozing was "a sign of a war by the government against the Muslim community where the law or the constitution do not matter".

"Since the government has started bulldozing houses, mobs or rioters are no longer needed to target Muslims. The government itself is now destroying property and branding people as criminals. Houses were demolished earlier too, but now it is being used for the politics of hatred," he added.

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