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After MP and Delhi, demolition drive in Gujarat’s Himmatnagar targeting Ram Navami violence accused

Bulldozers were being used to remove encroachments in Chhapariya locality of Himmatnagar city in Sabarkantha district.

Bulldozers were being used to remove encroachments in Chhapariya locality of Himmatnagar city in Sabarkantha district. (Express Photo)

The civic authorities in Gujarat’s Himmatnagar carried out a demolition drive against illegal structures on Tuesday, days after a communal clash had broken out in the city during the Ram Navami celebrations. This came in wake of similar crackdowns in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, where communal violence marred Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti. 

Bulldozers were being used to remove encroachments in Chhapariya locality of Himmatnagar city in Sabarkantha district. “In today’s anti-encroachment drive, we removed 3-4 kiosks, 2-3 shanties and a two-storey shop building on T P Road in Chhaparia,” said Navneet Patel, chief municipal officer of Himmatnagar.

“About three metres of the 15-metre road was encroached on by the building owners who had extended the illegal construction. We had sent notices in 2020. It was a routine anti-encroachment drive and nothing to do with the incidents that occurred on April 10. We will continue to take similar action in other areas as well,” Patel said.

A communal clash had broken out near Chhapariya area during a Ram Navami procession on April 10, when members from two communities resorted to pelting stones, leaving some people injured. Some vehicles were also set on fire during the clash.

The Anand district administration had also earlier carried out a demolition drive using bulldozers to remove structures owned by people allegedly involved in communal clashes in Khambhat town there during the Ram Navami celebration.

On April 10, a Ram Navami procession was also allegedly pelted with stones in Khambhat town. One person was killed and several others were injured in the ensuing violence. 

Over the last month, demolition drives in areas hit by communal violence were witnessed in MP and Delhi. On April 11, a day after communal clashes erupted during Ram Navami procession in Khargone in MP, the local administration demolished at least 20 houses and shops in four localities.

On April 20, following communal clashes during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in north Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, authorities from the BJP-ruled municipal body demolished parts of several structures, including the exterior gate of a place of worship.

The MCD’s anti-encroachment drive was, however, stopped by the Supreme Court for two weeks as it acted on a plea alleging that the demolitions were targeting a specific community. 

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