Demolitions 'Had No Relation' to Prophet Row Riots: UP Govt Tells SC

A spate of demolitions in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj and Kanpur had followed protests over the Prophet row.

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Demolitions 'Had No Relation' to Prophet Row Riots: UP Govt Tells SC

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After a spate of demolitions in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj and Kanpur, the state government on Wednesday, 22 June, told the Supreme Court that the bulldozer action was carried out as per law, and "had no relation to the riots.”

The government's submission comes in response to a plea filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on the recent demolition of houses of those who had allegedly participated in protests against BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.

The government in its affidavit stated that the Prayagraj demolitions were carried out by Local Development Authority which is an autonomous body from the state government, and was a part of their endeavour to free the city of illegal and unauthorised constructions, reported LiveLaw.

Addressing the widely-condemned razing of house of Javed Mohammed, the key accused in the violent protests, the UP government maintained that the construction was in "violation of Prayagraj Development Authority rules" and that proceedings were initiated much "earlier than the riots," as per a Bar and Bench report.

The state government further said in its affidavit that the petitioner had "cherry-picked" two demolitions concerning properties of Ishtiaq Ahmad and one Riyaz Ahmed in an attempt to falsely link the action to rioting.

"The Petitioner has deliberately obfuscated the true facts to paint a nefarious picture of alleged mala fides on the part of the Administration, and that too, without stating any facts on affidavit."
UP government's affidavit, as quoted by LiveLaw

The state urged the court to dismiss the plea and penalise the petitioner for the said false allegations without basis before the Supreme Court.

The UP government also noted that it is taking action against those involved in the violence over the Prophet row under the appropriate legal procedure.

What Was the Plea?

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind moved the Supreme Court on 13 June seeking issuance of directions to the state of Uttar Pradesh so that no further demolitions of residential/commercial property are carried out without following due process.

The applicant has also sought to issue directions to ensure that demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws.

Violence erupted in parts of Kanpur after Friday prayers on 3 June over attempts to shut shops in protest against derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammed by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a TV debate last month.

A week later on 10 June, protests erupted in several parts of the country, including multiple places in Uttar Pradesh. These include Hathras, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Moradabad, Ferozabad, and Ambedkarnagar. Protests in places like Kanpur and Prayagraj, however, turned violent.

Following the unrest, demolition drives were conducted by the Uttar Pradesh administration in Prayagraj and Kanpur, citing "illegal constructions."

On 12 June, the home in which Javed Mohammad – an accused in connection with the unrest in Prayagraj – lived with his family, was demolished by state government authorities over claims that the property was illegal.

(With inputs from LiveLaw and Bar and Bench.)

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