Amnesty International has condemned the demolition of Muslim-owned property across several Indian cities this week, calling for a “thorough, impartial and transparent investigation”.

The riots targeting Muslim-owned property were sparked after clashes erupted during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami.
The riots targeting Muslim-owned property were sparked after clashes erupted during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami. (AA)

Unlawful demolition of properties owned by Muslims in India could “amount to collective punishment,” a global rights group has said.

Amnesty International on Thursday called for a “thorough, impartial and transparent investigation” into “reports of demolition of largely Muslim-owned shops and houses following incidents of communal violence” in several Indian cities this week.

Local authorities had to impose curfews in different cities in four Indian states, including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, after clashes erupted during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami on Monday.

At least one person was killed and several houses or shops were set on fire in the violence between Hindu groups and Muslims.

In Khargone, a city in the central Madhya Pradesh state, “provocative slogans were allegedly raised near a mosque during Ram Navami celebrations, which led to a riot, stone pelting and violence,” read the Amnesty International statement.

Officials soon claimed they had identified the rioters and that the “damages will be recovered from (their) private or public property.”

Authorities then proceeded to demolish several properties and houses, most of them belonging to “economically disadvantaged Muslim families,” the statement added.

“The majority of the demolished properties are owned by Muslims. Such punitive demolition of family homes of suspects could also amount to collective punishment, in violation of international human rights law,” Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India’s board said.

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Rise in anti-Muslim sentiment under Modi

Patel condemned the “deeply disturbing events” and said the “unlawful action of demolishing private property of people suspected of rioting, allegedly without notice or other due process requirements is a major blow to the rule of law.”

Apart from a speedy and fair probe to bring the perpetrators to justice, the victims must also be provided with effective remedy, he added.

“It is the duty of the state to protect all people within its jurisdiction, including minority communities,” said Patel.

India has witnessed a steep rise in hate speech and anti-Muslim actions since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rose to power in 2014.

The Modi government has also targeted Amnesty International for voicing concerns over the country’s rights record, forcing the group to halt operations in India in September 2020.

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Source: AA