HIGH drama ensued on Wednesday after the Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India [CJI], N.V. Ramana ordered the maintenance of status-quo against an encroachment drive in North Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area. After Delhi’s Bharatiya Janta Party chief Adesh Gupta, on Tuesday, wrote to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation [NDMC] mayor Raja Iqbal Singh to identify illegal constructions of “rioters” in Jahangirpuri and demolish the same, the municipal body issued a notice late last night seeking 400 police personnel to carry out a two-day “encroachment drive” in the violence-hit area on April 20 and 21.
Following an urgent mentioning of the matter by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, the Supreme Court ordered a stay on the planned demolition drive, and posted the matter for listing before an appropriate bench tomorrow. However, multiple reports, including from The Indian Express, NDTV and The Quint, revealed that the municipal authorities carried on with the drive despite the court’s order. In his statement to the media, NDMC mayor Singh said that the authorities had yet to receive the order and would thus continue their job of removing illegal structures until they did.
As the demolitions continued an hour after the Supreme Court ordered a stay, Dave informed the Supreme Court of the same, requesting the bench led by the CJI to communicate the order to NDMC authorities on urgent basis. Following this, CJI Ramana directed the Secretary General of the Supreme Court that the court’s order be “communicated immediately” to NDMC officials. Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat arrived at the site of the demolition with a physical copy of the court’s order, urging Delhi Police and NDMC officials to cease the encroachment drive.
Jahangirpuri has been witness to heavy police presence since communal violence broke out following a Hanuman Jayanti procession on Saturday. The procession, which reportedly did not have any police permission, also took a route towards a local mosque and incidents involving brandishing of swords, gun-shots and stone-pelting between two groups were also reported.
Usha Rangnani, North East Delhi’s Deputy Commissioner of Police informed ANI that 20 persons, including two juveniles, were arrested after nine people, including eight police officers and a civilian, had been injured.
As of Wednesday, five of the accused – all Muslims – were also booked under the National Security Act.