Bulldozer action back after Friday’s violence

Updated on Jun 13, 2022 07:16 AM IST

A team of the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA), along with a contingent of police, demolished the “illegally constructed” two-storey house of Javed Mohd, 56, in the JK Ashiyana area of Kareli, Prayagraj.

Bulldozer being used to demolish the 'illegally constructed' residence of Javed Ahmed in Prayagraj on Sunday. (PTI)
Bulldozer being used to demolish the 'illegally constructed' residence of Javed Ahmed in Prayagraj on Sunday. (PTI)
By, Hindustan Times, Prayagraj

Prayagraj district officials on Sunday razed the house of a person arrested in connection with the violence that broke out on Friday during protests against suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments against Prophet Mohammed in the area.

A team of the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA), along with a contingent of police, demolished the “illegally constructed” two-storey house of Javed Mohd, 56, in the JK Ashiyana area of Kareli, Prayagraj.

The action against Javed came a day after authorities in Kanpur and Saharanpur districts similarly demolished houses of people accused of violence during protests against comments made by Sharma, and expelled media head of the Delhi BJP unit, Naveen Jindal.

Javed, a local businessman who also claims to be an office-bearer of the Welfare Party of India, was arrested on Saturday.

“Javed Mohd’s house is located in the Kareli area of Prayagraj. Police personnel and a JCB machine reached the Kareli police station around 10.30am and demolition commenced around 1pm,” a senior PDA official on Sunday said.

Javed, along with his wife, a son, and two daughters, were living in the house.

“In the morning, some family members of Javed Ahmad took some of their belongings, and left the place through the back door,” PTI quoted superintendent of police (city) Dinesh Kumar Singh as saying.

The PDA team reached Javed’s house at around 12.30pm, and began the demolition by first breaking down a window to gain access into the house. After the team established that the house was vacant, workers removed the family’s possessions, including a cooler, inverter, an oxygen concentrator, a cupboard, books and documents, and a few pieces of furniture, officials said.

Three machines, including two JCBs, were used to demolish the house which took nearly four hours, Singh said. The process was carried out under heavy police presence with riot gear to prevent resistance. The area around the house was cordoned off and demolition was carried out, he told PTI.

“During the exercise, the house was also searched and many objectionable materials, including a knife, illegal firearms like 12-bore and 315-bore country-made handguns and many live bullets have been found,” Prayagraj senior superintendent of police Ajay Kumar said.

“Objectionable posters, books and also documents like one in which certain comments on the courts have been made by Javed, have also been seized from the house before the demolition. All these materials have been taken into custody and would be taken on record. A list of these materials is now being made and they would be made part of the ongoing investigations,” he said.

The house was built without getting its map passed by the PDA, a senior district official said.

“The notice issued by joint secretary/zonal officer of PDA dated June 10, 2022 informing that the construction of the house has been undertaken in violation of the set norms under the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Ordinance, 1973, and without permission of the PDA. The notice citing illegal constructions on 25x60 feet ground floor and first floor, also mentions that a show cause notice had been served on the owner of the house on May 10, 2022 and a date of hearing was fixed for May 25, 2022 but neither the owner nor his representative lawyer appeared in the hearing,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

A notice to vacate the house by 11am on June 12 was put up on Saturday night, the official added.

Speaking to reporters, PDA vice-chairman Arvind Chauhan said, “The action was taken in accordance with the set norms on Sunday.”

Javed’s daughter, however, said that the family was not served a notice about the illegality of the house.

Talking to reporters, Somaiya Fatima said, “This is the first notice that we got on Saturday night. No one spoke to us about this earlier. If our property was truly illegal, then why did they not come and give us these notices earlier?”

On Saturday, while the Saharanpur municipal corporation demolished houses of two accused — Muzammil and Abdul Wakir —who were arrested in connection with Friday’s violence in the district, in Kanpur, a multi-storey building belonging to the relative of Zafar Hayat Hashmi, an accused in the violence that broke out in the district on June 3, was razed.

In recent months, governments in BJP-ruled states, including UP, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka, have ordered razing of properties of alleged rioters, and have later argued that these were part of drives against illegal construction.

Javed is among the 92 people arrested in the district so far. He is the main accused in the violent protests that rocked the Atala area of the city on June 10, officials said.

Prayagraj senior superintendent of police, Ajay Kumar, said that he was arrested for inciting violence during the protests on Friday. “His mobile phone was scanned which revealed that he spread messages calling for a nationwide bandh and urged youths to reach Atala for protests,” Kumar said.

“Some deleted messages and mobile numbers are also being retrieved from his mobile phone,” Kumar said, adding that the police are also probing the role of his daughter, Afreen Fatima, in the violence.

“One of Javed’s daughters is a JNU student and her role in the incident is under investigation because she used to advise her father,” Kumar said.

Denying Javed’s role in the protests, Afreen on Saturday appealed to the people to maintain peace.

The police have also seized mobile phones of other arrested accused, Kumar said. “Messages urging others to reach Atala have been found in WhatsApp groups on these phones,” he said.

Prayagraj police have named 95 people in three FIRs registered at Kareli and Khuldabad police stations of the district, apart from around 5,400 unidentified accused.

The FIRs have been filed under 29 different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including on charges of rioting, arson, violating prohibitory orders, obstructing government work, attacking police personnel and damaging government and public properties.

Across the state, 316 people have been arrested in connection with Friday’s violence, including 79 from Saharanpur, 51 from Hathras, 35 from Moradabad and 34 from Ambedkarnagar, Prashant Kumar, additional director general (ADG), law and order, said. Fifteen people have been arrested from Firozabad, six in Aligarh and four in Jalaun, Kumar added.

Meanwhile, four teams of the district administration and PDA officials are scanning properties belonging to the accused to identify illegal constructions, while civic departments have been tasked with identifying defaulters among the accused.

On Friday, protests broke out in several states and Union territories, including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi, seeking Sharma’s arrest. While dozens were injured as the protests turned violent, two people succumbed to gunshot wounds in Jharkhand’s capital, Ranchi.

Following remonstrations by several Muslim-majority nations from West Asia and Southeast Asia, Sharma was suspended and Jindal expelled by the BJP earlier this week. The Indian government said the remarks by individuals denigrating the religious personality “do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the government of India”.

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