Claiming that the ongoing demolition campaign in Uttar Pradesh was wrongly linked to selective targeting of minorities, the BJP government led by Yogi Adityanath informed the Supreme Court that the drill was carried out in accordance with applicable law. Citing the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act 1973, the government said demolitions were carried out on the illegal structures after following due legal process. The Supreme Court was hearing a plea filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind who claimed the government had targeted the minority community of Prayagraj and Kanpur by demolishing their homes following widespread protests in the area.
The submission follows a wave of criticism over the government’s demolition of homes of suspected rioters following violent protests over remarks by now-suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma against the Prophet Muhammad.
While pointing out that the government had taken action against the rioters under a separate set of anti-rioter laws, the state‘s attorney, while urging the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition, criticized the petitioner for having founded the arguments and made sweeping claims against the government. after selectively selecting biased media reports. The state pointed out that the demolition in Kanpur of the two houses in question had been initiated well before the riots and in accordance with the planning law.
In response to the demolition of Prayagraj, the UP government said that the campaign was carried out by the Prayagraj Development Authority, which is an autonomous body, after carefully following all legal procedures, while stating that ‘it had no connection with the actions taken against the rioters.
Last week the petitioner moved SC and asked for instructions on what action to take against the officials concerned after the homes were razed. After hearing the plea, the two-judge bench consisting of Justices AS Bopanna and Vikram Nath ordered the UP government to file its response within three days. The high court also stressed that any demolition must be carried out according to the rules of the art and cannot be of a retaliatory nature. “Expect the authorities to act only in accordance with the law. Provide security so nothing untoward happens,” the high court said.