Prayagraj Accused Javed Mohammed Has Stood for Peace, Worked Closely With Admin
Even on the day of the protest, Javed Mohammed appealed to people to "pray for peace" and submit a memorandum.
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"Yeh shehr hamesha shanti-priya raha hai. Haalaat ke maddenazar, humein khamoshi se jumma namaaz padh kar Allah se dua maangni chahiye amno aman ke liye. Sabko qanoon ke daayre mein apni baat rakhne ka adhikaar hai. Memorandum banayein hum sab mil kar..."
(This city has always been peace-loving. Keeping in mind the circumstances, we should quietly offer our Friday prayers and pray to Allah for peace. Everyone has the right to put forward their view within the boundaries of the law. We should come together and prepare a memorandum.)
This is an excerpt from what Welfare Party leader from Prayagraj, Javed Mohammed, posted on his Facebook timeline at 11.28 am on Friday, 10 June. The post came barely two hours before the Friday prayers, after which protests broke out in the city against suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled BJP leader Naveen Jindal's insulting remarks against Prophet Muhammad.
Javed Mohammed has now been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police, which has presented him as the 'mastermind' behind the protests. The house he lived in with his wife and children has now been demolished by the municipal authorities.
He is also the father of student activist Afreen Fatima.
Who Is Javed Mohammed?
Born in 1966, Javed Mohammed is the Nazim-e-Shehar of Jamaat-e-Islami Allahabad and the general secretary of the Welfare Party's Uttar Pradesh unit.
He has also been the president of the Qabristan Committee of the Kala Danda Qabristan. Under this responsibility, he fought a legal battle to remove encroachments from the qabristan. This involved taking the help of the police and courts to remove encroachments.
Due to this, he is said to have been threatened by local builders and their goons multiple times. As a result, he has had a good working relationship with the police.
He ran a business of submersible pipes, which was shut down a few years ago. Many locals call him "Javed pump" because of his business.
He has been a petitioner in many cases at the Allahabad High Court. For instance, he recently filed a petition regarding the lynching of a Muslim youth on the outskirts of Prayagraj city.
During the second COVID-19 wave, Javed Mohammed was actively involved in helping out people, by arranging oxygen machines and cylinders. Later that year, he also helped with relief efforts when certain parts of Prayagraj got flooded.
In Prayagraj city and Chail tehsil, he is known to often help out by arranging for people's treatment, taking care of hospital bills, or procuring school fees/books for students whose parents aren't able to make ends meet.
A 'Vocal Muslim' Who Tried To Strike a Balance
Javed Mohammed has been an important and vocal Muslim figure in Allahabad (now Prayagraj) – right from the Babri Masjid demolition till the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
However, when the first COVID-19 wave hit, he is said to have tried to convince anti-CAA protesters to call off the protests.
"He helped the administration bring an end to the anti-CAA protest at Mansoor Park. At that time, many said he is going against the community. But he understood that COVID is going to hit and we should work together with the authorities," his relative Mohammad Ziya told the media.
Those who have observed Javed Mohammed closely say that his commitment to justice has been "unwavering," but he always believed in striking a "balance" – and whenever possible – going through courts or memorandums to the administration.
Student activist Sharjeel Usmani, who has been with Afreen Fatima at the Fraternity Movement, says, "Like many other religious leaders of his age, he too believed that us youths at times were harsh with our choice of words in our speeches."
'Wrongly Accused by Police,' Say Supporters
Advocate KK Rai, a close associate of Javed Mohammed and now his lawyer, says that he was always popular with the administration.
"He (Javed Mohammed) was a prominent part of every Aman Committee in the city. He was the darling of all the authorities. From the qabristan to the slaughterhouse, he got a lot done for his community by working with the administration" Rai said.
"Overnight, the police turned him into a 'mastermind' even though he always worked in the public interest," Rai added.
Siraj Talib, national secretary of the Welfare Party of India, says that Javed Mohammed is being trapped to cover up the failures of the administration.
"The administration should be grateful to people like Javed Mohammed who kept appealing for peace. They should focus on what happened in Kanpur and how they failed to prevent violence. To hide their failures, they are trying to frame people like Javed sahab," Talib told the media.
Usmani alleges that the administration had begun harassing Javed Mohammed long before the protests.
"He was being arbitrarily called by police for past several days before the protests even began. In one such meeting, the officers asked his father's name and other details. He asked why were they asking it. They said, shahar ke sajjan logon ki list bana rahe hain (we are preparing a list of all prominent people in the city)," Usmani says.
(With inputs from Piyush Rai.)
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