Video Producer: Naman Shah
Video Editor: Rajbir Singh
Soon after the local administration in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj on Sunday, 12 June, demolished the "illegally constructed" house of Javed Mohammad, who is accused of masterminding the violent protests that took place in the city on Friday, several politicians took to Twitter to condemn the bulldozer action.
UP Opposition leader Mayawati called the demolition "unfair" and said the court has to take cognisance of the demolition that targets a particular community. The Bahujan Samaj Party chief wrote in a tweet:
"By targeting a particular community, bulldozer, demolition and other malicious aggressive actions, crushing the protest and creating an atmosphere of fear and terror, this is unfair and unjust. The court must take cognisance of the faulty action of targeting the entire family by demolishing the house."BSP Chief Mayawati
Further, in a series of tweets, she questioned why the government has not arrested Bharatiya Janata Party members Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, whose remarks against Prophet Muhammad were the root cause of Friday's protests.
"Not sending both the accused to jail is grossly biased and unfortunate. Immediate arrest required," she said.
Javed Mohammad is accused of orchestrating the protests that broke out in Prayagraj against the controversial remarks made by two BJP functionaries against the prophet. Mohammad was arrested on Saturday and his wife Parveen and daughter Sumaiya were taken into custody. Student activist and former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, Afreen Fatima is Mohammed's other daughter.
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Several other politicians, including the Congress' Shashi Tharoor and AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) Chief Asaduddin Owaisi, have condemned the demolition, questioning the legal basis for the same.
Owaisi on Sunday pulled up Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the demolition drive and asked if he had become the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court that he is "convicting anyone and demolishing their houses."
"The UP Chief Minister has become the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court. He'll convict anyone and demolish their houses?" Owaisi questioned while addressing a rally in Kutch district of Gujarat.
Further in a tweet, he expressed his solidarity with Mohammad's family.
He pointed out that the house of UP Minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son, who is accused of killing at least five people, is safe, but being a vocal Muslim is a crime.
"In solidarity with Afreen Fatima and her family. Teni’s son is accused of killing 5 people. SC has cancelled his bail. But his house is safe. Yati and his accomplices are roaming freely. Cops carrying out custodial torture receive laurels but being a vocal Muslim is a crime."
Stating that the process of law is fundamental to democracy, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted on Sunday:
"Shocked to receive this from JNU with the update that the family’s home has been demolished. Due process of law is fundamental to democracy. Under what law & following what process has this been done? Has UP exempted itself from the Constitution of India?"
Y Sathish Reddy, social media convener of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party in Telangana, has expressed solidarity with the family of Mohammad.
"There are absolutely no words to express what it feels looking at this. My heart goes out for #AfreenFatima ji. #StandwithAfreenFatima," Reddy tweeted.
Stating that the demolition was carried out based on "forged back dated notices," Saket Gokhale, the national spokesperson of All India Trinamool Congress, said it is "an entirely illegal act by the UP government."
Further, he also wrote a letter to the district magistrate of Prayagraj on Monday and asked it to furnish:
True copies of all demolition notices served to Mohammad Javed before conducting demolition.
All files (with file notings), correspondence, and records related to the demolition orders passed for the demolition of the aforesaid residence of Mohammad Javed.
Gokhale asked the Magistrate to provide these details within 48 hours under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
"The demolition of @AfreenFatima136's house yesterday was carried out with forged back-dated demolition notices and was an entirely illegal act by UP govt. Have asked DM Prayagraj to furnish all related papers. If not punished in courts, this will never stop," Gokhale tweeted, along with a copy of his letter to Prayagraj district magistrate.
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Former cricketer and BJP's MP from East Delhi, Gautam Gambhir, meanwhile, condemned the hatred and death threats issued to Nupur Sharma, who was suspended by the saffron party for her remarks against the prophet in a TV debate.
"Silence of so called ‘secular liberals’ on the sickening display of hatred & death threats throughout the country against a woman who has apologised is surely DEAFENING! #LetsTolerateIntolerance," Gambhir tweeted.
Gambhir has also stated that his statements were not in support of her controversial statements. The party has accorded her strict punishment and she has unequivocally apologised for the same, he said.
What Is the Case Against Mohammad?
In a statement, the UP Police said that Mohammad'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.
The demolition was reportedly carried out hours after authorities put up a notice outside Mohammad's house, which claimed that the construction at the ground and first floor of his house was illegal. The notice also claimed that Mohammad had not responded to the demolition order sent in May.
It further asked Mohammad to vacate the house by 11 am on 12 June if he fails, raze it down by 9 June.
Mohammad's lawyers have however denied the allegations of the authorities and have stated that the demolition was illegal as Mohammad was not the owner of the house.
In a letter to Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, they said the house was in the name of Mohammad's wife Parveen Fatima, who had not received any notice of illegal construction.
Violent protests broke out across India and in several parts of Uttar Pradesh on Friday, 10 June, over the derogatory remarks made by two saffron party leaders against Prophet Muhammad. Police has so far arrested over 300 people from eight districts of the state in connection with the violence.