According to refugees, who spoke to South Asian Wire, the official told them that the mosque was standing on government land which they had allegedly encroached. The officials also shifted the refugees living on the portion of the land that falls in Uttar Pradesh state and relocated them in tents set up on Wednesday close to the main road outside the camp.
Eyewitnesses said that the officials aided by policemen used bulldozers to demolish the mosque that in structure reflected the look of a ramshackle shelter. The exercise was conducted an hour after morning prayers were held inside the mosque.
A 33-year-old Rohingya man who did not want to be named said the officials went ahead with demolishing the mosque even as they had appealed to them to not do so. “We were hurt when we saw the bulldozer bring the mosque to the ground. Our eyes were full of tears,” he said.
A video that was shared on social media showed the fangs of earth movers tearing through the roof and walls of the mosque as police and officials stood by.
The police officials while speaking with South Asian Wire said that the structure was not a mosque. But the refugees claimed that they would hold the prayers there daily.
The SDM Sarita Vihar who is assigned to deal with matters concerning Rohingya refugees in the area declined to talk saying he was not competent.
This is the same camp, housing around 300 refugees, that was destroyed in a blaze on June 13. The refugees are now living in tents provided by relief groups.
A refugee said that the people who accuse them of land grab should know that they are refugees and will leave the country when the situation gets better in their home land (Mynamar). “We do not have the right to own the land. We live in the camp because we have nowhere to go,” he said.
Shamsheeda Khatoon, a 27 year old Rohingya woman said that the demolition of washroom and water supply system has left them in lurch. “We have no private space for defecation or bath and wash.”
Ali Johar, a Rohingya activist, said the demolition exercise has hurt the religious sentiments of the camp inmates who now have no place for worship. He appealed to the government to use a compassionate approach towards Rohingya.
Reportedly the mosque stood on the patch of land that belonged to the Uttar Pradesh government’s irrigation department.
“Illegal Rohingya camps were removed from the land belonging to the Irrigation Department in Madanpur Khadar at 4 am. Illegal occupants removed from the 2.10 hectare land of the UP Irrigation Department,” said UP Jal Shakti Minister Mahendra Singh in a Tweet
India TV quoted him saying that he had written to the Delhi LG, Delhi CM and the leader of opposition about this issue. “The LG gave us full support. Our team went to the site with the JCBs and other machines and was accompanied by Delhi Police and a team from the local administration,” Singh had said.