Amnesty calls on India to stop bulldozing Muslim properties

Amnesty International released two reports describing the targeting of homes, businesses, and places of worship across several states belonging to the Muslim community. The rights group called the demolitions a form of extra-judicial punishment and demanded adequate compensation for those affected. They also called on the JCB construction-equipment company, whose bulldozers were widely used in the demolitions, to publicly condemn the use of its machinery for human rights violations.

The two reports documented demolitions of at least 128 properties between April and June 2022, rendering at least 617 people homeless or destroying their livelihoods. The demolitions were carried out as punishment following episodes of religious violence or protest by Muslims against discriminatory government policies in five states. The London-based rights group stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, accused of anti-Muslim rhetoric, rules in four out of the five states.

BJP leaders widely celebrate the demolitions, claiming that they are against encroachment and target buildings owned by criminals or gangsters. However, rights groups pointed out that overwhelmingly, Muslim properties were the target. Activists and opposition politicians believe that the bulldozing is a deliberate form of targeted violence against minority communities such as Muslims, carried out without due process.

According to Amnesty, JCB bulldozers are commonly used to carry out these demolitions, and the company is responsible for determining whether its machinery was used for punitive demolitions. A legal firm representing JCB argued that the company has no direct link to the alleged human rights violations, as sales are carried out through independent third-party dealers. This is not the first time Amnesty has called out JCB’s complicity in human rights violations; in 2021, a report showed incidents during which Israeli authorities used JCB machinery to demolish buildings belonging to Palestinians.

The rights group urged the company to publicly condemn the use of its machinery for human rights violations and emphasized its responsibility to respect human rights and avoid contributing to violations. They also insisted that JCB should add clauses to its sales contracts that mitigate human rights violations.

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