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Bulldozer tyranny, in the name of law

The destruction of Wakeel Hassan’s house is clearly part of the action selectively directed against Muslims. It was not enough that Hassan was a hero, he was not their kind of hero.
Last Updated : 05 March 2024, 19:34 IST
Last Updated : 05 March 2024, 19:34 IST

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The demolition of the house of Wakeel Hassan, who led the operation to rescue the workers trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand three months ago, by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) last week has many unseemly dimensions. Hassan and other rat-hole miners who saved the lives of 41 persons were heroes then.

The nation had profusely thanked them for the operation that they undertook, risking their lives. But the DDA did not remember it when it sent bulldozers to raze his house in North-East Delhi’s Khajoori Khas area where he has lived with his family for over 10 years. The house was demolished without notice, and Hassan and his family spent the night on the street. He was taken to the police station and his children were reportedly ill-treated.

Hassan told the police when they came for the demolition that he was Wakeel Hassan who helped rescue the workers in Uttarakhand. But he says, “they only heard my name, not my work.”

People bearing names like Hassan have been targeted for demolition of houses in Delhi and other places. The bulldozer culture which started in UP has spread to other states and Delhi, and the victims have invariably been Muslims. The cited reason is that the house was an unauthorised construction and that the law was taking its natural course. The question why the law has been taking the demolition course only against Muslims has not got a satisfactory answer. The DDA has been on such a demolition spree in recent times. It demolished the centuries-old Akhoonji Mosque in Mehrauli and many houses in different parts of the city on the ground that they were illegal structures. The destruction of Wakeel Hassan’s house is clearly part of the action selectively directed against Muslims. It was not enough that Hassan was a hero, he was not their kind of hero. 

Hasan is not only a Muslim but he is poor, too. It is poor people who have been the victims of demolition drives not only in Delhi but in other places also.

There are unauthorised and illegal constructions made by people who have money and influence in many parts of the country. These are not touched by the bulldozer squads. According to rules, an alternative dwelling should be provided to those whose houses are demolished. The rule is not followed in practice. After the demolition of Wakeel Hassan’s house was brought to public notice by the media, Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena announced that he would be given a house in another part of the city. That can only be a bid to hush-up a matter that might have a negative political fall-out, not justice.

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Published 05 March 2024, 19:34 IST

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