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Families on Prayagraj ‘list’ dread bulldozer shadow

Lecturer Aqeel Abbas Rizvi is among the 92 held so far by the Prayagraj police.

Written by Manish Sahu | Prayagraj |
Updated: June 15, 2022 3:30:09 pm
A shopkeeper shifts his belongings in Prayagraj. (Express Photo)

ONE FAMILY is frantically putting together documents and bills to keep the bulldozer away. The other has given up because all it has is a two-room hut with this address: “Jhopar Patti.”

About 500 metres from the demolished home of activist Mohammad Javed in Prayagraj, the family of 57-year-old Physical Education lecturer Aqeel Abbas Rizvi is hoping against hope that its house won’t be demolished. The other family just wants its “minor” son back from custody after the police said he was 18 years old and arrested him.

Rizvi and the youth are among the 92 people held so far by the Prayagraj police for their alleged role in the violent protests on June 10 against derogatory remarks targeting the Prophet.

Rizvi is also the oldest on a preliminary list of 37 accused that was handed over by the district police to the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) to check for irregularities in their properties — and take action, if needed, including demolition. The youth, who works as a “waiter in a hotel”, is the youngest on that list.

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The names of the others arrested will soon be added, according to the police.

Lecturer Aqeel Abbas Rizvi

The house of activist Javed, who was among those arrested, was demolished on Saturday with just a day’s notice stating that its construction violated several norms. Javed’s family has said that the house is in the name of his wife and that they have been paying utility bills and tax without any questions raised until now.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Tuesday, Rizvi’s son Hussain Aqeel said: “My father is a lecturer in a government college. In his entire life, my father has never taken part in any protest and never joined any political party. His passion has always been sports. Last Friday, he was going to college after coming to know that the police had brought the situation under control and that the clashes were over. But the police arrested him from near the college and falsely implicated him.”

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Rizvi, who hails from Kaushambi, is posted at Majidia Islamia Inter College, which is near the Atala locality where some of the clashes linked to the protests took place last Friday afternoon.

“We have all the documents related to the house under the number 22B/5C. My father purchased the house, which is around 1,800 sq feet, from one Mehroonisa in 2008. We have been paying all government taxes and bills, including house tax, and water and electricity bills. We never got any notice from any government department. But now, there is fear of demolition,” said Hussain Aqeel, who is preparing for the civil services examination.

“I have been told that the district administration is issuing show cause notices to all those booked in Friday’s clashes. But we have not received any notice from the PDA or any other authority,” said the son.

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Meanwhile, the family of the youngest on that list of 37 is desperately trying to arrange bail.

“We are daily wage labourers. I have a two-room hut, which is built on government land. The address of my house is ‘Jhopar Patti’. There are seven children, including six girls, in the family and we have been staying here for the last two decades after coming from Bihar. If the PDA takes action, we will shift to another vacant land and erect our hut,” said the youth’s mother.

The youth’s father said they want the police to review the case against his son. “My son is a minor, he is 17 years old. I am sure the police have mistaken my son, who has no criminal case, with someone else ,” he said.

Editorial |Demolition squad

When contacted, Prayagraj SSP Ajay Kumar said the police have formed a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) for the case. “The investigation is being done with an open mind. If anyone comes up with evidence to prove that a family member was wrongly implicated, we will look into it,” Kumar said.

In Prayagraj, following the clashes, shops in several areas, including Atala, and the Asgari and Shaukat Ali crossings, were closed with heavy police deployment in place. Several shop owners, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they plan to keep their establishments shut for “a few more days” fearing action by the PDA.

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First published on: 15-06-2022 at 04:02:54 am

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