"I am here for my Muslim friend, Sania. I don't see where this democracy is going, but I don't like it. We need to do something about it right now," said Saloni, an activist protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Monday, 13 June, against the Uttar Pradesh government's 'bulldozer raj'.
Saloni was among the scores of students and activists who staged protests in Delhi on Monday in solidarity with Afreen Fatima and slammed the Centre's 'bulldozer politics'.
On Sunday, the local administration in UP had bulldozed the homes of those people who were allegedly involved in violent protests against former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma's offensive remarks against Prophet Muhammad.
Fatima's house was among the structures that had been demolished in UP's Prayagraj on Sunday. Her father, Javed Mohammad, was earlier arrested by the police, who claim that he was the main conspirator of the violence.
"I don't want this to happen to the people I know and love," Saloni said, adding that nothing worse than this could happen to a human being.
Several members of the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO), Muslim Students Federation (MSF), and Fraternity Movement were detained by the Delhi Police from the UP Bhawan and Jantar Mantar on Monday for protesting against the demolition of Fatima's house in UP's Prayagraj.
Around 60 persons were taken to the Parliament Street Police Station amid the protest.
'Protesting Against Illegal Demolitions, Targeting of Muslims'
"We are protesting against the way Javed Mohammad's house was demolished illegally without following any due process," said SIO national secretary Musab Qazi, adding that an investigation must be conducted into the demolition.
He also added that his organisation was demanding the arrest of Nupur Sharma, Naveen Jindal and other party spokespersons "who constantly spread hatred".
"Our second demand is an immediate halt to the targeting of Muslims, and an investigation into police action against them, which has led to the deaths of at least two persons recently, and several people getting injured.
Another protestor said that members of his organisation would continue their protest, regardless of whether the police detains or arrests them.
Fatima's father, Javed Mohammad, a leader of the Welfare Party of India, was accused of being the key conspirator in Friday's violent protests, where arson and stone-pelting were reported in addition to sloganeering against suspended Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her controversial remarks against Prophet Muhammad.
The protest at UP Bhawan comes a day after the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) conducted a protest against the demolition of Fatima's house.
JNUSU members raised slogans against the administration's actions, saying that the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government was indulging in "bulldozer raj" and called for stopping the "witch-hunt of Muslims," news agency PTI reported.
Demolition of Afreen Fatima's House
The Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) demolished Fatima and Javed's house on 12 June, alleging that it had been "illegally constructed".
In a statement, the UP Police said that Javed's house was searched during the demolition and illegal arms were recovered.
"During the demolition, his house was searched and inappropriate material including weapon and posters was recovered. A list of such items is being prepared and it will be part of the investigation. Among the recovered weapons include .12 bore and .315 bore pistol and cartridges. Some papers with sharp remark on court has been taken as evidence," Ajay Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Prayagraj, said.
The demolition was reportedly carried out hours after authorities put up a notice outside Javed's house, which claimed that the construction at the ground and first floor of his house was illegal. The notice also claimed that Javed had not responded to the demolition order sent in May.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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