The “political” bulldozer, widely seen as a symbol of the BJP’s policies and an expression of its power over the past year, made its entry into Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday when the authorities demolished the two-storey home of a most-wanted militant.
Militants’ homes – or houses where they are holed up – are routinely destroyed during gunfights in Kashmir. But on Saturday the government used a bulldozer to flatten the Pulwama home of Jaish-e-Mohammad militant Ashiq Negroo, said to be based in PoK.Earlier this year, BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and a BJP-ruled civic body in Delhi had used bulldozers to raze properties of alleged rioters – mostly Muslims – in what many saw as a tactic to intimidate minorities and please the Right-wing ecosystem.
Officials in Pulwama claimed the demolished house had been built illegally on encroached land. Videos suggested that no member of the family was present when the house in Rajpora village was demolished, with administrative and police officials looking on.
The Resistance Front, which has been behind a spate of targeted killings in Kashmir, threatened to kill all members of the demolition team and demolish their homes.It said in a statement that all the officials were local people who were “blindly” following the government’s orders.Ashiq, originally a truck driver, is said to have fled to PoK in 2018 where he is allegedly coordinating the Valley activities of the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
He is an accused in the 2019 suicide attack in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF men and brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.In April, the Centre declared him a “designated terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The demolition cheered the Right-wing ecosystem.Hari Om, former head of the history department at Jammu university, known for his radical views, appeared pleased that “for the first time in Kashmir’s history, a bulldozer has been used against a terrorist’s illegal act”.He asked the government to bulldoze former chief minister Farooq Abdullah’s “illegally built” home in Bathindi, Jammu.”Bulldozer now in #Kashmir,” tweeted BJP activist Sajjid Yousuf Shah.
Two of Ashiq’s brothers have been killed in militancy-related incidents while the third is in jail.One of the brothers, Manzoor, a cook, was killed on September 5. The police blamed inter-group rivalry, suggesting he had been killed by a militant group, but no outfit has so far claimed responsibility.His family claims he was not a militant.
Another brother, Abbas, an alleged militant, was killed in an encounter in 2014. Reyaz, the third brother, was arrested in 2018 while allegedly ferrying militants to the Valley from Jammu in his truck.Ashiq is believed to have been following him in another vehicle but managed to escape. Manzoor’s wife and children used to live in the Rajpora house. It isn’t clear where they are now.