Demolition of Bilal Mosque in Haryana Apparently Not a Targeted Communal Act

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The video on social media shows heavy machinery tearing down an ancient mosque in Haryana.

As part of Supreme Court order to clear forest land in Faridabad, at least 10 mosques, 25 temples, two churches and a Sikh Gurdwara has been brought down

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Pakistan on Tuesday condemned the demolition of a mosque in Khori village of Faridabad district in Haryana saying that it is another act of human rights violation of Indian Muslims.

Dawn, a Pakistan daily, quoted Foreign Office spokesperson as saying: “Pakistan strongly condemns the unjust demolition of ancient Bilal Mosque in BJP-ruled Haryana by Indian authorities in consort with pliant judiciary under BJP-RSS regime.”

However, the demolition of the mosque, which according to eyewitnesses took place on August 17, does not seem to be a targeted communal act but rather part of a larger drive which began last month to clear off “illegal settlements” of Khori village in accordance with the Supreme Court order.

Nabi Khan, a resident of the village, told Clarion India on the phone that since the drive began the authorities have demolished at least 10 mosques, 25 temples, two churches and a Sikh Gurdwara.

Masjid Bilal, a two-storey white colour structure, was the oldest mosque in the settlement. The images that surfaced on the internet show an earth mover bringing it down. The images sparked some angry reactions from activists on social media.

In early June, the apex court had given authorities seven weeks to remove “encroachments” in the Khori village on 150 acres of Aravalli Forest land.

The authorities launched the drive in July amidst heavy police presence despite protests from the dwellers who said that the act would render them homeless. They also contend that the area is not the forest but a source of sand and other construction material.

During the drive there were also allegations of harassment by journalists who said that they were obstructed by police when they visited the village to cover the story of demolitions.

On July 19 Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a global media watchdog, issued a statement appealing the Indian authorities to stop harassing and obstructing members of the press covering protests and demolitions in Khori village.

Journalists have a right to cover the ongoing demolitions in the Indian village of Khori Gaon without facing threats, harassment, and intimidation for their work,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy executive director. “Authorities must ensure that the media can report freely on the demolitions and all matters of public interest without fear of violence or arrest.”

The authorities contend that the land being cleared is forest land and has been occupied illegally. But, as per reports, the residents and some of the families have been living there for the last 70 years.

Khan, who has been living in the village for the last 15 years, said that the authorities have so far demolished 15,000 homes which include shanties and permanent concrete structures displacing more than one lakh residents.

On Monday, August 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation informed the Supreme Court that it has removed all structures including “10 illegal farm houses” on Aravalli Forest land. The corporation said that the drive was conducted “without any exception”. The court gave them two more weeks to implement the order of clearing the forest land.

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