GURUGRAM/CHANDIGARH, Aug 7 (PTI): The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday halted the demolition drive in Nuh where authorities were bulldozing “illegally-constructed” buildings following communal clashes last week, while unidentified men allegedly started a fire in a mazar in adjoining Gurugram.
The court of Justice G S Sandhawalia took suo motu cognisance of the exercise in Nuh and directed the Haryana government not to carry out any further demolition.
Officials had said some of the buildings were used by rioters when a Vishva Hindu Parishad procession was targeted by a stone-pelting mob on July 31. It led to communal clashes that spread to Gurugram.
Six people, including two home guards and a cleric, were killed in the violence.
In the early hours of Monday, some prayer material at a mazar, visited both by Muslims and Hindus in Gurugram’s Khandsa village, was set afire, said the shrine’s caretaker Ghasite Ram.
According to a complaint filed by Ram at the Sector 37 police station, he received a phone call around 1.30 am about a fire in the shrine.
He said the fire was brought under control with the help of people. But the pray material kept inside the mazar were burnt, he added.
Ram said he learnt that a group of five-six young boys gathered there and started the fire.
He said he has been working at the shrine for about seven years and has seen “people of all religions offering their respect there”.
The small shrine located in the middle of a market also has pictures of Hindu deities on the inner walls along with the tomb of a “peer baba”. On the outer wall also, there are picture of a Hindu deity, and the Om and Swastik symbols.
Ram told PTI on Monday morning, “This is a decades-old mazar of ‘peer baba’ and all villagers offer prayers here.”
Police have lodged an FIR in the case against unidentified persons under sections 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 188 (disobedience of an order duly promulgated by a public servant), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house) of the IPC.
A senior police officer said they are trying to identify the accused and arrest them.
The incident happened when prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC were still in force in Gurugram in view of the communal clashes that began in the neighbouring Nuh district and spread to parts of the city and nearby areas last week. The Gurugram district administration lifted section 144, which prohibited an assembly of four or more persons at a time, on Monday.
As authorities in Nuh district Sunday razed some illegal structures including a hotel from where stones were allegedly pelted on the religious procession, the high court took suo motu cognisance of the exercise and directed the state government not to carry out any further demolition.
Deputy commissioner, Nuh, Dhirender Khargata said the demolition drive in the district has been stopped following the orders of the court.
“I have ordered the officials to stop the drive against the illegal construction,” he said.
In the last three days, illegal constructions have been removed from 57.5 acres of land at 37 places in the district.
As many as 162 permanent and 591 raw structures have been demolished in the district till Monday, officials said.
Meanwhile, police said an eatery (dhaba) near Rathiwas village in Gurugram was set on fire on Saturday night. They said an FIR was registered at the Bilaspur police station in the night itself.
The Gurugram Police also said it arrested on Sunday night 15 people accused of violence in Sohna and sent to judicial custody by a court.