Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Eliciting public outrage, the house of student activist Afreen Fatima and her father Javed Mohammed was demolished by Prayagraj authorities on Sunday, 12 June, over alleged involvement in the violence that broke out in Uttar Pradesh amid the Prophet Muhammad remarks row.
The 22-year-old's father, a leader of the Welfare Party of India, is 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.
Amid all this, Fatima was informed on Saturday night that the civic body of Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj has put a notice on her house, asking her family to vacate the house for demolition on Sunday morning.
While the police has accused Fatima of being her father's adviser and being involved in "notorious activities," the action against the student activist and her family is being widely criticised as another instance of the 'bulldozer politics' being perpetrated in BJP-ruled states.
JNU Student & Mover of 'Muslimah Allahabad'
Afreen Fatima is the National Secretary of the Fraternity Movement, the student wing of the Welfare Party.
Fatima completed her master’s from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 2021, where she served as a councillor of the students union. She has also served as a former president of the students union of Women’s College, Aligarh Muslim University.
The activist has addressed various sessions on recent political issues, and has been vocal about her opposition to issues such as the hijab ban in Karnataka, the 'Sulli deals' controversy, Bulli Bai app, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), etc.
Afreen and her sister Sumaiya have also initiated the formation of a community for the young Muslim women from Allahabad, "with the intention to grow a sense of sisterhood and to be each other's support."
As per an Outlook report, Fatima formed the study circle for the young women, named ‘Muslimah Allahabad,’ with her younger sister last October, which has over 70 members.
In 2020, she gave a speech against the CAA during a demonstration held at the Mansoor Ali Park in Prayagraj's Khuldabad, according to Amar Ujala.
Afreen Fatima 'Gives Suggestions' to Father: Police
Senior Superintendent Police Ajay Kumar had on Saturday claimed that Javed Mohammed had stated during questioning that his daughter, Afreen Fatima, often gives him suggestions.
SSP Kumar had also told reporters that Fatima studied at the JNU and is “involved in notorious activities.”
The police has not found any evidence against her in connection with the Prayagraj violence so far. When asked if she would be questioned, the SSP said, “If strong evidence is found, action will be taken.”
'Bulldozer Politics': Fatima on Action Against Her Family
A police complaint filed by Fatima at 3:15 am Saturday said, “We are writing with urgent concern for the safety of my father Javed Mohd, mother Parveen Fatima and sister Sumaiya Fatima who were picked up by the Allahabad police yesterday, without any notice or warrant, and whose whereabouts we are unable to find out for the last several hours."
“When friends and family members reached Kotwali Police Station, from where the officers had come, they were not allowed to meet him and the police officials even refused to confirm if he was in their custody,” the complaint was quoted as saying by Maktoob Media.
“A few hours later, at about 12:00 am some police officers came to my house again and took my elderly mother who is also diabetic and one younger sister with them, asking them to come along with their phones. They were not given any choice in the matter not was anyone in the house informed of where they were being taken or why,” Fatima wrote in her complaint.
#StandWithAfreenFatima Trends on Twitter as Support Pours In for Activist
#StandWithAfreenFatima trended on Twitter on Sunday as Prayagraj authorities razed the house of the activist with little prior notice.
Condemnation for the demolition and support for Fatima and her family poured in on Twitter. Student activist Gurmehar Kaur, public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor were among those who expressed their solidarity with Fatima.