About 35 eminent citizens have written to the Delhi government and the municipal corporations, urging them to immediately stop the "illegal and unlawful" demolitions in the national capital.
The signatories of the letter include economist Jayati Ghosh, All India Democratic Women's Association members Malini Bhattacharya and Mariam Dhawale, social activist Anjali Bhardwaj, and All India Progressive Women's Association member Kavita Krishnan.
In the letter addressed to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, they said it was "appalling" that bulldozers hired by civic authorities were targeting temporary structures essential to the livelihood of people.
They said the recent visits and subsequent statements by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation mayor about areas earmarked for future demolition point to the "real and present danger" that the actions in Jahangirpuri and Kalyanpuri have caused over the past week.
The BJP-ruled SDMC on Wednesday launched an anti-encroachment drive as part of a 10-day action plan to remove illegal structures from areas within its jurisdiction, including Shaheen Bagh which was the venue of gathering for the protracted anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in 2019.
According to an official, the drive will cover areas such as the Shaheen Bagh main road, Kalindi Kunj, MB Road, Meharchand Market, Sriniwas Puri and Khada Colony.
"It is deeply disturbing that demolitions in these areas have been put on hold only because the Delhi Police publicly asked for a 10-day notice in order to cooperate with the order.
"Massive presence of paramilitary forces in some of these areas as well as frequent processions and slogan-shouting by crowds led by BJP leaders are contributing to an overall climate of intimidation and terror," the signatories of the letter said.
They called upon all authorities to take a serious note of this "unfolding injustice" and immediately put an end to demolitions of any sort.
"Stop attacking the source of livelihood and homes of the poor residents immediately," the eminent citizens said.
Alleging this anti-encroachment drive was being used as a tool to harass the minority community in Delhi, they urged authorities to reassure the Muslim residents that they belong to the city as much as any other community does and will be offered full protection of the law.
"We call upon all authorities to offer just compensation, rehabilitation and restoration of lost livelihoods to residents whose property has been illegally destroyed by the state, subjecting them to loss of livelihood and personal trauma," they added.
These anti-encroachment drives in the national capital began after Delhi BJP Chief Adesh Gupta wrote to the mayors of South and East corporations on April 20 to remove encroachments by "Rohingyas, Bangladeshis and anti-social elements" in their areas.
Clashes broke out between two communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession at Jahangirpuri last month, leaving eight police personnel and a local injured.
Several concrete and temporary structures in Jahangirpuri were brought down last month as part of an anti-encroachment drive by the BJP-ruled North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), days after the northwest Delhi neighbourhood was rocked by communal violence.
The Supreme Court had to intervene twice to stop the drive after it took cognizance of a petition filed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind against the demolition.