Sunday, May 28, 2023

Residence of activist in Prayagraj bulldozed after just a day’s notice

Cops say no proof against daughter, student leader Afreen, so far

A bulldozer tears down the house of activist Mohammad Javed in Prayagraj on Sunday. (Express photo by Ritesh Shukla)A bulldozer tears down the house of activist Mohammad Javed in Prayagraj on Sunday. (Express photo by Ritesh Shukla)

After running bulldozers in Kanpur and over properties of two accused in Saharanpur, the Uttar Pradesh administration Sunday demolished the house of Mohammad Javed, a political activist and businessman, after serving just a day’s notice to vacate the house. The demolition happened in the presence of the Prayagraj District Magistrate Sanjay Khatri and Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar.

The district police had on Saturday arrested 54-year-old Javed, who is a Central Working Committee Member of the Welfare Party of India, a political party floated in 2011, and claimed he was one of the conspirators behind Friday’s violence in Prayagraj. His role came to light during questioning of other accused, the police claimed, and alleged he had called for a “bandh” asking people to reach the spot of protests through WhatsApp messages.

SSP Ajay Kumar had on Saturday claimed that Javed had told during questioning that his daughter (Afreen Fatima) often gives him suggestions. In the preliminary inquiry, the police had, however, thus far not found any evidence against her. When asked if she would be questioned, he said, “If strong evidence is found, action will be taken.”

Javed’s daughter Afreen Fatima, a student leader in her college days, completed her master’s from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2021, and is the National Secretary of the Fraternity Movement, the student wing of the Welfare Party.

Sunday’s action in Prayagraj follows the previous day’s bulldozing of “illegal construction” on the residences in Saharanpur of two accused of Friday’s violence by the Saharanpur district administration and the Kanpur Development Authority’s demolition of a commercial building which the district police alleged belonged to a close relative of the prime accused in the June 3 violence.

On Sunday, police claimed recovery of country-made pistols during a search operation at Javed’s residence during the day. “During the search operation, we recovered two country-made pistols, objectionable posters, and several cartridges from the house. We also found documents with objectionable remarks on the court by Javed. All articles are being examined and would be made part of investigation of the case,” SSP Ajay Kumar claimed.

A bulldozer being used to demolish the residence of Javed Ahmed, a local leader who was allegedly the key conspirator of violent protests against remarks on Prophet Muhammad, in Prayagraj on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)

Javed’s younger daughter Sumaiyya Fatima, 19, however, said all this was “fabricated and made up”. “The allegations regarding recoveries from our house are unbelievable… We were watching the demolition on TV since we were not allowed to go home. The only things found that we saw on TV were our marksheets, our educational books. Then suddenly in the evening they say these items have been found. The police have done this to frame us,” she said.


When contacted, advocate K K Roy, who is representing Javed’s family, told The Indian Express, “The house demolished on Sunday is in the name of Parveen Fatima, wife of Mohammad Javed; the notice on Saturday has been served to Javed Mohammad. As per Muslim law, the wife’s property does not belong to the husband.”

The Prayagraj Development Authority’s (PDA’s) notice to Javed on June 10 said he had constructed a building against the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973. “The construction of 25 x 60 feet was done without getting permission on the ground and first floor,” the notice said.

It also said Javed was served a notice on May 10 this year with May 24 being fixed as the date of hearing of his reply; it said Javed did not submit any documents and was not present – claims that are denied by Javed’s family members as well as their lawyer Roy.

The PDA notice served on Saturday said, “On May 25, 2022, the demolition order was passed, and orders were given that you should give information after demolishing the house by June 9, 2022, which you didn’t do. Hence, you are told to vacate the house by June 12, 2022, by 11 am so that action of demolition can be taken.”


While Afreen could not be reached for comments, Sumaiyya Fatima, said the family was never served any notice in the past. “The first notice we got was the one pasted at our house after 10 pm on Saturday. Before that, we never heard anything about the illegality of the house. The house is in the name of my mother. And we have been paying all taxes like – Water tax, House tax, Electricity tax. All are updated,” she told The Indian Express.

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The family’s lawyer Roy too said, “No notice was served to the family on May 10, as is being claimed by the officials. The notices have been prepared with old dates overnight by officials. It is being done just to prove that process has been followed,” he claimed. “The most the officials could have done was seal the house if compounding wasn’t done. And the probe can go on, but a demolition is a draconian act which is against our country’s rules and regulations,” he said.

Earlier in the afternoon, UP Additional DG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar, however, told The Indian Express the police were present at the location of demolition only for law and order. “The action on Javed’s house is part of Prayagraj Development Authority Action. The police are present there only for law and order. It (demolition) has nothing to do with the police. The case lodged against him is separate… We are not linking it to the incident on Friday. The PDA may have thought it is time, and they should explain that.”

Meanwhile, in a petition filed with Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal of the Allahabad High Court, a group of lawyers 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 that house will be against the basic principle of law and a grave injustice to the wife and children of Javed Mohammad.”

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“To justify the act of demolition, the Prayagraj Development Authority 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 showcause which was never received either by Javed Mohammad or his wife Parveen Fatima,” it read.

First published on: 12-06-2022 at 15:51 IST
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