State Power: Security forces and local people in Prayagraj witness the demolition of the house of a person accused of inciting violent protests in 2022 Photo: PTI

By Md Asghar Khan

The bulldozer, previously a utilitarian tool, has now become a symbol of political power, and politicians are using it as a strategic political instrument. One such example is the Khargone bulldozer demolitions, where former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh (MP), Shivraj Singh Chouhan, used the bulldozer to make a powerful political statement in 2022—using it against those seen to be violating the new socio-political order. Now more states have joined the bulldozer bandwagon.

For Wasim Ahmed, April 10, 2022 marks the day of his ruination. He recalls the violence that broke out during the Ram Navami procession in Khargone, MP: “It will soon be two years since that calamitous day. On April 9, a Ram Navami procession was taken out from the Chandni Chowk area of Khargone. Stones were pelted and violence broke out. After that, a curfew was imposed in the entire city. We couldn’t leave our homes. The next morning, people told me that my shop had been flattened with a bulldozer.”

After the stone pelting incident, the then home minister of MP, Narottam Mishra, had said that the houses and shops of those involved would be demolished and reduced to a heap of stones. Ahmed’s small grocery shop was among the five shops that were razed in a section of the Chandni Chowk area.

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