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Communalism

BJP Leader Calls Jahangirpuri Residents 'Illegal Immigrants', Cites Europe Example

Baijayant Panda told 'Indian Express' that "those people" are recognisable by their "demeanour" and are "dressed like dons".

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New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi in-charge has compared parts of Delhi to alleged ‘no-go zones’ in European countries where immigrant communities have settled.

Baijayant Panda, also one of BJP’s vice-presidents, told Indian Express that “illegal immigrants” in New Delhi are recognisable by their “demeanour” and are “dressed like dons”. In the same breath, Panda also equated settlers with “criminals, the mafia and people who have connection with terrorist outfits.”

“Just like we have seen in certain places in Europe — in Sweden, Holland and Belgium etc — where immigrant communities have created no-go zones where people or even police are afraid to go, it seems illegal immigrants have replicated the same in Delhi. It’s against the Indian Constitution. They don’t have the right to attack the Ram Navami procession — we have seen them using illegal guns and working from illegal constructions. You can see the demeanour of those people, dressed like dons. The BJP is not against any community, we work on Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. But BJP governments will act against all criminal elements and terrorists. This is not to target any community, but the criminals, the mafia and people who have connection with terrorist outfits,” he told Express.

Panda’s comments came in the aftermath of a meeting between Amit Shah and other top leaders with the party’s Delhi unit leaders on the day when bulldozers destroyed shops and parts of buildings in north Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, in a bulldozing effort led by the BJP-ruled North Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Jahangirpuri had seen communal violence on Ram Navami (April 16) when a Hindutva procession allegedly attempted to wave a saffron flag in front of a local mosque. Several arrests have since taken place and the National Security Act has been slapped on five arrested men.

In the same vein as BJP-ruled governments in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – states which also saw communal violence on Ram Navami – the NDMC planned an anti-encroachment drive in the exact area where the violence took place. This decision came after Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta wrote to the NDMC mayor to identify the illegal constructions of “rioters” in Jahangirpuri and demolish it  using bulldozers.

Residents of Jahangirpuri on the day of the demolition drive. Photo: PTI

Several opposition leaders and members of civil society have referred to the municipal body’s actions as openly communal and the expression of BJP’s anti-Muslim politics.

Gupta had alleged as early as Sunday that the violence was the result of the AAP government aiding the illegal stay of “Rohingya and Bangladeshi immigrants”.

Although Supreme Court ordered status quo on the demolition drive, bulldozing took place for over an hour afterwards.

On Wednesday, after the meeting, BJP is reported to have resolved to explore all legal options to see that the “ongoing exercise reaches a logical conclusion”.

“Whether on social media or on the ground or in the Sangh, the leadership in Delhi wants the Yogi (Adityanath) model… you also know that for such action to be undertaken and for police and bureaucrats to be convinced, it can’t be done at the state level,” an unnamed BJP leader was quoted by Express as having said.