Hours after the local administration in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj demolished the house of Javed Mohammad, one of the key accused persons in the violent protests that erupted in Prayagraj over the remarks on Prophet Muhammad, the Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday, 12 June, claimed that it found "illegal weapons" in his house during the demolition.
Mohammad, an activist associated with the Welfare Party of India, was arrested on Saturday for allegedly being the key conspirator behind the protests that turned violent in Prayagraj on 10 June over the derogatory remarks made by suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
The police have also taken his wife Parveen and daughter Sumaiya into custody.
In a statement issued after the demolition, 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, SSP Prayagraj said.
Family Calls Out Discrepancies in Demolition Notice Protocol
A demolition notice over the alleged illegal construction was earlier issued to Javed by the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA).
"In this case, the administration followed all guidelines and after issuing proper notice, an illegal building of Javed was demolished. Based on the CCTV footage and other visuals, we have been identifying the miscreants and action is being taken," Prayagraj District Magistrate Sanjay Khatri said.
There was also heavy police presence at Prayagraj's Kareili police station before the scheduled demolition.
However, a source close to the family claimed that they were served a 'back-dated' notice only around 11 pm on Saturday night. They also claimed that the Javed had no legal stake on the property to be served a notice at all.
"Last night, at about 11 pm, the Allahabad Police stuck a demolition notice on the house of Javed Mohd. The back-dated notice was served in the name of Javed Mohd, even though the house belongs to his wife. In fact, the land it stands on is her ancestral property, with Javed Mohd having no legal stake in it," the source said.
"The notice does not even have any stamp and is very vaguely written. It seems clear that the notice was hastily issued on a weekend night to ensure that the family has no opportunity for legal recourse, as proceedings before a court might uncover the many factual inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the notice, highlighting the fact that this is nothing more than a vindictive operation designed to punish a questioning voice," they added.
Arrests Across UP Continue
A total of 304 people have been arrested on 11 and 12 June from several cities across UP, which had seen people taking to the streets to demand the arrest of Sharma for her derogatory remarks.
In Prayagraj, an FIR under 29 serious sections was registered over the violence in Atala area.
"Within 24 hours, 68 miscreants have been arrested and sent to judicial custody while four are juvenile. 23 more miscreants have been taken into custody after they were identified through CCTV footages," Ajay Kumar, SSP Prayagraj said.
Those who were arrested also include All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen district president Shah Alam, Left leader Ashish Mittal, and anti-CAA activist Zeshan Rehamni.
'My Father Was Detained Without a Warrant'
Former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student and activist, Afreen Fatima, Javed's other daughter, claimed in a video for Maktoob Media that the Prayagraj Police detained her father without a warrant or an official letter.
"They have not disclosed where they have taken him. I do not know where my father is right now," she said.
Fatima added that the police came to her house again post midnight and detained her mother, who is a diabetic patient, and her 19-year-old sister.
"Around 2:30 am the police again gathered at our house and tried to detain me and my sister-in-law. When we resisted and said that we will not go with them, they tried to intimidate us and harass us in every way possible," she said, adding that a lot of Muslim activists like her father were being harassed across the city.
'Against the Basic Principle of Law': Lawyers Move Allahabad HC over the Demolition
A group of lawyers on Sunday moved the Allahabad High Court, alleging the "illegal demolition of the house of Parveen Fatima, wife of Javed Mohammad."
In their petition addressed to the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, they said:
"Since Javed Mohammad has no ownership over the land and the building which is selected and targeted for demolition, any attempt by the District and Police Administration and the Development Authority to demolish the house will be against the basic principle of law and a grave injustice to the wife and the children."
"To justify the act of demolition, the Pragyaraj development authority has pasted the notice on the wall of the house of Parveen Fatima yesterday i.e. on 11.06.2022 and in the said notice mention of some back date has been made regarding the issuance of show cause notice which was never received either by Javed Mohammad or his wife Parveen Fatima," the group added.
'Gross Violation of Fundamental Rights': Maktoob Media
Maktoob Media, in a statement uploaded on its Twitter account on Saturday, said that it had learnt that its contributor Afreen Fatima and her family were being targeted "in an arbitrary crackdown by Uttar Pradesh Police in the middle of the night."
Terming the actions of the police a gross violation of fundamental rights, it further said:
"Afreen conveyed to us that her parents and sister are detained and lodged in an undisclosed location while others are forced to evict house. The episode is a gross violation of fundamental rights."