Communal clashes broke out during a Hanuman Jayanti procession on April 16 in New Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area. Following the violence, on April 20, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) bulldozed several houses and shops in Jahangirpuri alleging encroachment. A gate of a mosque was also razed in the demolition drive. Prior to this, three temples were among the structures razed in an “encroachment drive” in Rajasthan’s Alwar, where the Congress party is in power. News18, Republic Bharat and Aaj Tak published false reports claiming that the Alwar demolition was carried out to “avenge” the removal of the masjid’s gate. Alt News’s fact-check on the false reportage can be read here.
In a show titled ‘News Ki Pathshala’, Times Now Navbharat similarly claimed that “Jahangirpuri’s bulldozing was avenged in Rajasthan”. It is worth noting that the Alwar district administration carried out the demolition of “encroachments” on April 17 and 18, whereas the bulldozing was carried out in Jahangirpuri on April 20. Anchor Sushant Sinha claimed that Bhanwari Devi’s home was razed down in Alwar, Rajasthan. However, no action was taken against the shop situated right next to it called ‘Zakir Khan Mattress’. Sinha accused the administration of discrimination along communal lines.
A clip of Times Now Navbharat’s broadcast is widespread on social media. The viral clip starts after the 8:49 mark in the broadcast. The channel has claimed that all the Hindu-owned shops surrounding ‘Zakir Khan Mattress’ were torn down. Bhanwar Pushpendra was reporting live from Alwar.
Retweeting Times Now Navbharat, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya alleged “communal profiling and targeted action” by the Ashok Gehlot government. (Archive link)
If this isn’t communal profiling and targeted action by the Ashok Gehlot government, then what is? pic.twitter.com/6JGgfSmoOB
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) April 26, 2022
Alwar BJP MP Yogi Balaknath also tweeted the clip accusing the Congress-led government of unfairly siding with Muslims as it carried out the “anti-encroachment” demolition drive. (Archive link)
अलवर, राजस्थान में सौ सौ फुट दोनों तरफ हिंदुओं के मकान दुकान तोड़ दिए गए पर बीच में बीस फुट की ज़ाकिर खान की दुकान की कील तक नहीं चटकाई, इसको कहते हैं कांग्रेसी सेक्युलेरिज्म वाली इस्लामी सरकार … pic.twitter.com/O2fA0dOUJ3
— Yogi Balaknath (@MahantBalaknath) April 26, 2022
BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya also amplified the video and accompanying claim on his Facebook page. (Archive link)
अलवर (राजस्थान) में दोनों तरफ कई फुट तक हिंदुओं के मकान और दुकान तोड़ दिए गए परन्तु बीच में बीस फुट की ज़ाकिर खान की दुकान को छोड़ दिया गया।
हिंदुओ पर सितम, मुस्लिमों पर रहम Ashok Gehlot जी यह तुष्टिकरण की पराकाष्ठा नहीं तो और क्या है?
जनता Indian National Congress को इसका ज़वाब अवश्य देगी।
Posted by Kailash Vijayvargiya on Monday, April 25, 2022
‘Zakir Khan Mattress’ board can be seen in Times Now Navbharat’s report. It contains three phone numbers. Alt News dialled the numbers and managed to get in touch with Zakir Khan. He explained that he is not the owner of the shop but merely a tenant. “The owner affixed a notice from 2007 outside the shop that states the District Collector’s orders as per which the shop is not an illegal construction. And this is why it was not razed down,” he said while expressing that false news on mainstream media outlets has immensely disturbed his mental state.
The owner of the shop ‘Zakir Khan Mattress’ is a man named Manish Dixit who is a lawyer by profession. He said, “This is my ancestral property. In 2005, the authorities carried out a demolition drive to remove encroachments. Even at that time, the administration had bulldozed many shops. We had bought this land from the custodian department. I filed a suit in Rajgarh court and the court ruled that my shop would not be considered an encroachment. The court had ordered that no one could evict us from the property or demolish it. This decision is still in effect today.” Dixit also sent a copy of the 2007 court order to Alt News. It clearly states that the shop is not an “encroachment”. This order was issued on December 1, 2007.
He further said that the municipal corporation had issued him a notice in 2017 and demanded the property documents. He produced the papers and the matter was resolved. But this is a repeated occurrence.
Dixit was again asked to produce the papers in 2018 and then on April 6 this year. He responded to the recent notice on April 11 with the court’s order. The “anti-encroachment” exercise was carried out on April 17, when he had already stuck a copy of the court’s order outside his shop. He shared photos of the same.
Dixit added that Zakir Khan’s family is the sole Muslim family in Rajgarh. They have been renting his shop for nearly 20 years. He also shared a copy of the rental agreement. It clearly states that the shop belongs to Manish Dixit and Zakir Khan’s father Pappu Khan has leased it.
Dixit also told us that he spoke to Times Now Navbharat reporter Bhanwar Pushpendra after the channel aired the report. He said he informed Pushpendra that he is the owner of the shop and hails from the Hindu community. Dixit further said that Pushpendra told him that the report will be updated. At the time of writing this article, Times Now Navbharat has neither taken down nor updated its report. In fact, in a subsequent broadcast, anchor Sushant Sinha said, “It doesn’t matter who owns the shop since it is currently in Zakir Khan’s possession.”
After Kailash Vijayvargiya shared the false report on Facebook, Dixit commented on his post that he is the owner of the shop and Zakir Khan is his tenant. Dixit’s name on Facebook is ‘Sonu Dixit’.
To sum it up, the “anti-encroachment” demolition drive in Alwar, Rajasthan was given a false communal spin by Times Now Navbharat without any prior verification. The channel claimed that the administration demolished shops owned by Hindus and left Muslim-owned properties untouched. The report was based on the fact that a shop named ‘Zakir Khan Mattress’ wasn’t bulldozed. However, this shop is owned by a Hindu man and Khan is merely a tenant. The shop wasn’t razed since the owner was able to produce a court order deeming it legal.
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