A Prayagraj-based political activist Javed Mohammad was among 255 persons arrested across eight districts in Uttar Pradesh in connection with the stone-pelting and illegal gathering during protests after Friday prayers against the comments made on Prophet Muhammed by two BJP leaders recently.
The number of persons arrested till 8 p.m. on Saturday stood at 255 across eight districts, said police. The highest number of arrests were in Prayagraj (68), followed by Saharanpur (64), Hathras (50), Ambedkar Nagar (28), Moradabad (27), Firozabad (13), Aligarh (3) and Jalaun ( 2).
As the State government intensified its crackdown against the Muslim protestors on Saturday, several members of the ruling BJP, including its state president Swatantra Dev Singh, endorsed using bulldozers to demolish the properties of the accused persons.
In Prayagraj, where protestors engaged in stone-pelting on police following Friday namaz in Atala area, police arrested 68 persons and said properties of the accused would be demolished on the basis of evidence.
Police said Javed Mohammad alias Javed Pump had organised the protest and blamed him for the “conspiracy.” Mr. Javed is a member of the federal committee of the Welfare Party of India, headed by SQR Ilyas, father of jailed JNU student leader Umar Khalid.
Senior Superintendent of Police of Prayagraj, Ajay Kumar, said police found through Mr. Javed’s WhatsApp chat that he had given a call for a “Bharat Bandh” and asked people to gather at Atala.
Police personnel look for illegal structures at Atala area in Prayagraj on June 11, 2022.
| Photo Credit: PTI
The officer said that Mr. Javed had also consulted his daughter, Afreen Fatima, a student activist in Delhi, regarding the protests. The student activist would be questioned and if credible evidence was found against her, U.P. police would not hesitate to request Delhi police for her custody, said the SSP.
Mr. Ilyas said Mr. Javed’s arrest was illegal and unlawful. “We demand his immediate and unconditional release,” said Mr. Ilyas.
Mr. Kumar said police had thwarted a “big conspiracy” and said Mr. Javed’s mobile phone would be sent for a forensic analysis as they found several phone numbers on it had been deleted.
U.P. police on Saturday said they had lodged 13 FIRs in nine districts in connection with the protests following Friday prayers. Three FIRs were registered in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, with highest number of arrests at 68 and 55, respectively, followed by Hathras (50), Ambedkar Nagar (28), Moradabad (25), Firozabad (8) and Aligarh.
In one of the FIRs lodged in Prayagraj’s Khuldabad, where protestors clashed with police, Mr. Kumar said 70 persons were named as accused while 5,000 others were unidentified. In another FIR lodged in Kareli police station, two dozen charges were invoked against the accused, including criminal conspiracy and attempt to murder.
SSP Kumar said so far police did not find the role of any particular group or party but of individuals.
ADG Law and Order Prashant Kumar said the damage caused to public and private property during the clashes would be recovered from the accused. Their properties would be seized under the Gangsters Act, said the officer.
Mrityunjay Kumar, media advisor to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in a tweet carrying a photo of a bulldozer demolishing a building posted a warning, “Unruly elements should remember that every Friday is followed by a Saturday.”
U.P. BJP President Swatantra Dev Singh said those whose homes fall under the shadow of a bulldozer, don’t throw stones at others.
BJP MLA Shalabh Mani Tripathi posted a video, purportedly of Saharanpur, in which policemen in uniform were seen beating up men rounded up in its custody. “A return gift to the rioters,” said Mr. Tripathi on Twitter. His tweet evoked appreciation from his supporters but also condemnation from several users, including senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
“Will these criminals in uniform be held liable for this brutality?” Mr. Bhushan tweeted.
Ms. Fatima, Mr. Javed’s daughter, said police teams reached their house late on Friday and spoke to the family in an “aggressive and intimidating” manner.
“They tried to evict us from our house. We fear our house will be bulldozed,” said Ms. Fatima in a video message.