Vicious Cycles

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India’s Supreme Court ordered authorities Wednesday to stop the demolition of illegal shops and walls in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of New Delhi, a verdict that came days after religious violence shook the area, Reuters reported.

The verdict also followed the police-supervised demolition of buildings in the Jahangirpuri district by only a few hours.

The court’s decision was on a petition by plaintiffs who said city officials had not alerted local shopkeepers ahead of time. The stay will remain in force until a hearing on Thursday.

Even so, officials continued to demolish structures, including the outer entrance and stairs leading into a mosque, nearly an hour after the top court’s order, Al Jazeera added.

Clashes broke out over the weekend between Muslims and Hindus during a procession at a festival in the Jahangirpuri neighborhood. Police detained at least 20 people in connection with the violence.

India has recently witnessed a series of communal clashes that have been followed by demolition drives, which critics say are part of efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to intimidate India’s 200 million Muslims.

Earlier this month, authorities in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – both ruled by the BJP – launched demolition drives targeting homes and shops in the aftermath of communal violence on the day of another Hindu festival.

BJP officials and hardline Hindu groups affiliated with the party have defended the demolitions, saying they are enforcing the law.

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