By Sakshi Dayal
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Local authorities in India’s northern state of Haryana have begun demolishing what they term illegal houses that were allegedly used in an attack on a Hindu procession earlier this week that sparked deadly Hindu-Muslim clashes across the state.
The violence erupted in the Nuh district on Monday and quickly spilled over into adjoining areas, including the business hub Gurugram, which neighbours New Delhi and where some vehicles, a mosque and some scrap shops were torched, and several eateries were vandalised.
Seven people died in the clashes, including two police personnel.
Narendra Singh Bijarniya, who has been Nuh’s top police official since the clashes, said police action would be taken on houses that were used to pelt stones at the procession, and would take place according to the law.
The violence brought to the fore Hindu-Muslim tensions brewing in the region since 2015, a year after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) captured power nationally and in Haryana.
Police spokesperson Krishan Kumar said the clashes drew attention to the houses, which he said authorities had found were constructed illegally on government land. Although officials said there was no data on the number of structures demolished, local media reported that over 200 houses were razed.
Nuh’s state lawmaker Aftab Ahmed, a member of the opposition Congress party, questioned the action.
“This is a short (quick) trial taking place, which is not allowed under any law,” he said, referring to the fact that it took place before any court convictions.
In recent years authorities in some states ruled by the BJP have demolished what they term “illegal” houses of people accused of crimes, many of them Muslims.
The trend has been cheered by BJP supporters as instant justice, but deplored by political rivals and rights groups as circumventing the judicial process.
(Reporting by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Frances Kerry)