The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday came down hard on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP, the city civic body) and the city police, days after the two departments were involved in razing homes of people suspected to be illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
The incident, in which over 200 makeshift homes were bulldozed by the BBMP, were occupied by people from different districts of Karnataka and other parts of the north eastern states of the country and not from Bangladesh as alleged by the police.
The incident has seemingly added to simmering tension around the implementation of the controversial Citizen (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), proposed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the centre.
The BBMP and the police have feigned innocence before the courts, prompting the latter to seek clarifications from both sides on 29 January.
On 11 January, Marathahalli police had issued a notice to Chethan Babu, the owner of the land to evict the residents as they were suspected to be illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
“The BBMP did not order the demolition and the engineer who did issue the notice has been suspended," K.N.Puttegowda, the lawyer appearing for the civic body said.
He added that the police too had only given protection for the demolition and not carried it out themselves.
Activists suspect that the engineer acted on the orders of the local BJP legislator to try and encroach the space that has considerable real estate value.
“It is submitted that the respondents have no jurisdiction whatsoever and are acting in a
manner that is arbitrary, illegal and contrary to law. It appears that the bogey of Bangladeshi is being used to evict the innocent poor," according to the petition filed in the HC.
The court has prohibited further evictions, said one lawyer appearing for the victims, requesting not to be named.