India defies international laws by razing Muslims’ houses

ISLAMABAD – Amid a spate of anti-Muslim riots, the Indian government has allowed mobs and authorities to raze Muslims’ houses in violation of the international rules and basic human rights.

The so-called punitive house demolitions in India are ‘administratively approved’ demolitions without proper court proceedings, forced eviction of innocent people from their homes, and destruction of their private property as collective punishment for the alleged ‘crimes’ of others.

The so-called ‘punitive demolition’ grossly violates Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.

Moreover, Article 11.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. Countries are under an obligation to take appropriate steps to ensure the realisation of these rights such as the right to adequate housing.

Article 17(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.

Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture – prohibits purely punitive demolitions. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – prohibits torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Article 14(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Article 43 of The Hague Regulations – the occupying force is obliged to maintain the status quo ante bellum of the territory.

Everyone has constitutional and basic right to have a standard of living

Article 64 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – occupying Power allowed to alter laws in the occupied territory that do not meet the minimum humanitarian guarantees advanced in the Geneva Conventions.

Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – the destruction of property of the occupied population is prohibited “except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations”.

Under Article 50 of The Hague Regulations, Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 75 of Additional Protocol I, Customary international law, ICRC Commentaries to the Fourth Geneva Convention: penalties of any kind inflicted on persons or entire groups of persons in defiance of the most elementary principles of humanity, for acts that these persons have not committed.

But India has turned a blind eye to the hundreds of laws. The Indian authorities bulldozed the homes of several Muslims over the weekend who participated in or organised protests against inflammatory comments about Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by a ruling party spokesperson.

Homes in the cities of Kanpur, Saharanpur and Prayagraj – formerly Allahabad – were demolished amid heavy police presence.

In New Delhi, authorities completely demolished the home of Javed Mohammad, a leader of the Welfare Party of India and father of student rights activist Afreen Fatima, in the evening of June 12.

Amid heavy police deployment, two JCB bulldozers reached Javed Mohammad’s residence. The bulldozers, after taking down the front and the back gates, took out personal belongings from inside the house and dumped them onto an empty plot next to Fatima’s residence.

Over 60 people have been arrested amidst a crackdown on protestors in Prayagraj (Allahabad) in connection with the violence on June 10, which saw stone pelting, the torching of vehicles and a subsequent lathi (batten) charge by the police.

Javed Mohammad, a prominent face in the anti-CAA protests, was named as a key conspirator by the Uttar Pradesh police alongside 10 others, and was taken into custody from his Kareli based residence. Later, his wife and daughter were also detained, family members say, but they were subsequently released. The police claim Javed Mohammad gave a call for the protest against the controversial statements of BJP leaders.

A notice to demolish his residence had been handed over to the family on June 11 after which the police reportedly made efforts to get the family to leave the home, as several female members of his family were staying in the house.

The chief minister of India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath – known for his hateful and incendiary remarks against Muslims – said that the home demolition spree would continue to eliminate ‘criminals and mafia.’

Thousands of Muslims over the past few weeks have protested against derogatory comments made by a now-suspended BJP spokesperson. The police responded forcefully, with dozens of videos online showing policemen brutally beating protestors with sticks and batons.

Around 230 people have so far been arrested from seven districts of Uttar Pradesh following protests which turned violent.

Amnesty International said unlawful demolition of properties owned by Muslims in India could “amount to collective punishment.”

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