Haryana govt rejects 'ethnic cleansing' charge, Chief Justice to hear Nuh demolitions case now

"As the matter came up for hearing on Friday, the government apprised the court that "it is not at all a matter of ethnic cleansing".
Image used for representational purposes. (File Photo | EPS)
Image used for representational purposes. (File Photo | EPS)

CHANDIGARH: The Haryana government on Friday rejected in the high court the suggestion that a demolition drive in violence-hit Nuh did not follow procedure and was an exercise in "ethnic cleansing", as the bench hearing the case referred it to the chief justice's court.

On Monday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court halted the demolition of "illegally-constructed" buildings in Muslim-dominated Nuh, questioning if a particular community was being targeted after communal violence broke out there.

As the case came up for hearing before the division bench of Justices Arun Palli and Jagmohan Bansal on Friday, Haryana's Additional Advocate General Deepak Sabharwal told the court that due procedure established under the law was followed.

"We have apprised the court that it is not at all a case of ethnic cleansing and the government never works like this. For the state, all are equal. The entire procedure followed before the demolition was carried out," he told reporters later.

The government will file a written reply before the court on the next date of the hearing.

Sabharwal said the court adjourned the case, saying the matter has to be heard by the first division bench of the chief justice as per the high court rules.

According to him, the demolition drive can go on as there was no stay on it.

Justices G S Sandhawalia and Harpreet Kaur Jeevan had on Monday halted the demolition drive after taking suo motu cognizance of some news reports.

"Apparently, without any demolition orders and notices, the law and order problem is being used as a ruse to bring down buildings without following the procedure established by law," the court had then said.

"The issue also arises whether the buildings belonging to a particular community are being brought down under the guise of law and order problem and an exercise of ethnic cleansing is being conducted by the State," it added.

The court had also directed the Haryana government to furnish an affidavit on the number of buildings demolished in two weeks in Nuh and Gurugram, and whether any notice was issued before the demolition.

"If any such demolition is to be carried out today, it should be stopped if the procedure is not followed as per law", the court had said.

Several houses and other buildings were bulldozed in Nuh, days after a Vishva Hindu Parishad procession was targeted there on July 31.

Five people, including two home guards, were killed in the Nuh violence, which later spread to adjoining Gurugram where an imam was murdered in an attack on a mosque.

The Nuh administration maintained that the bulldozed buildings were illegal and notices had been sent to them.

At the same time, officials also claimed that some of the demolished buildings belonged to "rioters". They said stones were hurled from some of them.

While talking about the communal violence, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij too had justified the use of bulldozers.

"Bulldozer are part of the treatment," he had told reporters.

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The New Indian Express