It took Alim Sheikh five months to pull together the money to finance the reconstruction of his five-storey building after it was demolished by government bulldozers on April 11. The demolition of his hotel and restaurant had come a day after his hometown witnessed a burst of violence on Ram Navami.
“This is the only source of our livelihood,” said the 42-year-old businessman from Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone town. “We have had to take loans amounting to Rs 20 lakh to restart our lives.”
But getting together the funds to rebuild the business has been only one part of Sheikh’s challenges: obtaining municipal building permissions was just as difficult.
Sheikh was among the 49 Muslim residents of Khargone whose homes and businesses were bulldozed that day, ostensibly because they were illegal. Many of them told Scroll.in that municipal clearances for reconstruction have been ensnared in red tape. They alleged that there was a simple reason for this: because they have filed legal cases against officials who carried out the demolitions.
“When we had gone to get permissions, they told us that the petition we had registered against them… we should take back,” said Abdul Sheikh’s cousin, 36-year-old Shahid Sheikh, about his visit to Khargone’s chief municipal officer. “ If…