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Bulldozers in India became a symbol of Hindu nationalism: Washington Post

“As religious tensions rise, the ruling BJP party orders demolitions in largely Muslim neighborhoods.”

In its article, “How bulldozers in India became a symbol of Hindu nationalism’ the Washington Post writes, “As religious tensions rise, the ruling BJP party orders demolitions in largely Muslim neighborhoods.”

Narrating the incidents of demolition it adds, “They rumbled into a central Indian village and tore down shops owned by a Muslim man falsely accused of kidnapping a Hindu woman. They rolled through a Delhi slum, knocking down the outer gate of a mosque that was the site of a Hindu-Muslim clash days earlier.”

Condemning the demolition drive as punitive measure, the Washington Post states, “Justice in India is increasingly meted out not by courts but by the long arm of heavy machinery.”

It adds, “As religious tensions have mounted in recent weeks, local officials in four districts governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have used bulldozers to summarily demolish property owned by Muslims accused of crimes, turning the hulking machines into a polarizing symbol of state power under Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister and a staunch Hindu nationalist.”

The American daily points out, “Officials defended the demolitions as an effort to clear buildings encroaching on the road. But in a megacity where unauthorized construction is the norm, BJP supporters and critics agreed on the underlying motive for the operation: payback.”

It noted, “Although local news and police reports suggested that most of the clashes were sparked by processions of armed Hindu men marching into Muslim districts, Mishra claimed that the chaos was orchestrated by undocumented Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh seeking to destabilize the country — a long-circulating conspiracy theory that has regained popularity among the Hindu right in recent weeks.”

The Washington Post quoted Aakar Patel, the chair of Amnesty International India as saying, “It is manifest that this was retributive, and it was punitive.” “It was collective punishment reserved for a part of our society.” He added.

The American daily, further states, “Patel said the demolitions were just the latest escalation by a ruling party that has sought to restrict where Muslims can do business, where they can worship and whom they can marry. In Karnataka state, women have been banned from wearing headscarves in schools. Roadside meat stalls have been banned in Gujarat, where many Hindus are vegetarians. In a business district outside Delhi, Friday prayers in public spaces have been outlawed.”

It observed, “The bulldozer became a divisive symbol this year during elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most-populous state. The state’s chief minister, the Hindu nationalist priest Yogi Adityanath, known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, had threatened early in his tenure to raze the homes of suspected gangsters. As he campaigned for a second term early this year on a law-and-order platform, BJP supporters nicknamed him “Bulldozer Guru” and drove bulldozers at his rallies.”

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