Brinda Karat stands tall in front of bulldozers at Jahangirpuri’s Tiananmen square moment

A lesson in leadership from the 74-year-old CPI (M) Politburo member whose heroic act helped diffuse a volatile situation from escalating 

Brinda Karat

What should a leader of a major political party do, when a communally sensitive situation is brewing in a densely populated area of the city they live in? Visit the spot and try to calm the situation? Or perhaps communicate the legal status and court ruling that is crucial to be obeyed so peace prevails? Or should they instead, attack Opposition parties? Or ensure their recorded message about “Yoga is good for health… I do yoga so should you,” be spread using telemarketing phone call bots? The answer was there for all citizens to see, from video clips beaming out of Jahangirpuri.

Brinda Karat (74) who in 2005, became the first woman member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) Politburo, gave a crash course in leadership to all politicians who may want to learn. The veteran leader Brinda Karat led from the front, and was on ground zero and was seen blocking a bulldozer at Delhi’s Jahangirpur. She showed the officials the copy of a Supreme Court order this afternoon, standing strong against state machinery and literal heavy demolition machinery. Her mere presence, in front of the bulldozer, showed how human rights, the rule of law, and orders of the Supreme Court were above any attempts at politicising a sensitive situation. According to a news report, this was a “tense two-hour standoff during which the civic body refused to stop its “anti-encroachment drive” despite the court’s order.

On April 20, 2022, the Supreme Court ordered status-quo on the demolition drive started by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation against alleged encroachers in the Jahangirpuri area, where communal violence had broken out last week. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave mentioned the plea against demolition drives for urgent listing today before the bench led by Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana. The demolition itself was “supposed to start at 2 PM but they started the demolition today morning at 9 AM knowing that we will mention,” he said. The CJI ordered, “Maintain status-quo, list before appropriate bench tomorrow.”

However, despite the Supreme Court orders, which had been reported live by legal news portals and others, the bulldozers were put in action on orders of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and the anti-encroachment drive reportedly continued in Jahangirpuri. The North Delhi Mayor, Raja Iqbal Singh was quoted by a news agency, saying the anti-encroachment drive will be stopped when “we have received the Supreme Court order.” 



It was CPI (M) Politburo Member Brinda Karat and CPIML Delhi Secretary Ravi Rai, who reportedly carried the copies of the court orders as they stood infront of the bulldozers, which were present at the spot to reportedly demolish more structures, many owned by Muslim residents of Jahangirpuri. Karat also spoke to special CP Law and Order, Deependra Pathak asking why despite SC stay Order demolition hadn’t stopped. 



According to a report in NDTV, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation sent nine bulldozers to remove what it has claimed are “illegal encroachments in Jahangirpuri”. There were hundreds of officers in riot gear surrounding some shops, and a mosque where the clashes broke out on Saturday. “We are here to provide protection, and to maintain law and order,” Dependra Pathak told the media. The mosque gate was soon demolished.



The petitioner who rushed to the Supreme Court to stop the demolition flagged what they called a disturbing pattern seen in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – communal clashes followed by demolition drives targeting one community. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led civic body will soon face elections as its term draws to a close. It is yet to be seen how its action of carrying out these sudden demolitions even after a three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana ordered status quo until the next hearing on April 21.




Karat had written to the Delhi Police, alerting him to “the role of the police in the wholly avoidable incidents of violence of a communal nature that occurred in Jehangirpuri on April 16.” She asked if  Bajrang Dal groups reportedly armed with “naked swords, lathis and also shockingly firearms” had police permission. Karat was also the first politician to point out that “processionists who carried arms had clearly violated the Arms Act which has stringent provisions of imprisonment for such violations.” 

She had put on record that “there have never been incidents of a communal nature in this area earlier. Two communities have lived together in harmony. This is further evidence that the events were manufactured by outsiders in the procession in the name of shobha yatra.” In her letter, Karat asked that the CP “take action against the police personnel (1) who allowed the procession to carry weapons (2) who were responsible for lack of adequate arrangements (3) who permitted the procession to stop in front of the mosque (4) who are conducting a one sided biassed investigation.”



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