Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government has told the Allahabad High Court that it demolished the house of a suspect in the Prayagraj violence on 12 June because it had been “built without relevant approvals from the civic agency”.
In addition, the government has also cited “complaints” about “parking problems” and “people coming and going at all times”.
In an affidavit filed Thursday, the Uttar Pradesh government told the court that the demolition of Welfare Party of India (WPI) Uttar Pradesh general secretary Javed Mohammed’s house at in Prayagraj was undertaken after the authorities received complaints from other residents of Kareli about the structure.
The affidavit, filed in response to a petition by Mohammed’s wife Parveen Fatima, also claims that the residential premises were being used for “commercial” purposes by the WPI.
Mohammed was arrested on 11 June in connection with the violence that erupted in the city on 10 June, in the aftermath of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s controversial remarks on the Prophet Muhammad. The Uttar Pradesh government claims he’s the key “conspirator” in the violence.
His family says the allegation is “fabricated”, and they are being targeted because they have criticised the government and “growing intolerance” in India.
ThePrint has accessed the affidavit, filed on behalf of the state of Uttar Pradesh, additional chief secretary/principal secretary (urban development), commissioner Prayagraj division, Prayagraj senior superintendent of police, and the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA).
The document was filed after a bench of justices Anjani Kumar Mishra and Syed Waiz Miya Tuesday gave the government a day to file its response on Fatima’s petition.
In her petition, filed on 21 June, Fatima claimed that the structure was torn down illegally without adequate notice and that the PDA, the body in charge of urban planning in the city, had issued the demolition notice on the night of 11 June — a day before the actual demolition.
She also alleged that she and the couple’s 19-year-old daughter Sumaiya Fatima were “kept illegally in police custody”.
Fatima’s lawyer K.K. Roy told thePrint that the PDA didn’t wait 30 days after issuing the notice as mandated by law.
“…The government has given no reply to our assertion that after the demolition notice, they did not wait for 30 days for appeal as under Section 27 (2) of the UP Urban Planning and Development Act,” he said. “We’ll file our rejoinder in the next two-three days. The hearing is slated for 7 July.”
In its affidavit, the Uttar Pradesh government said the structure didn’t have the requisite PDA approvals. Apart from this, it added that it had received a complaint about the house — dated 4 May, 38 days before the demolition — from other residents of the area.
The complainants, it added, alleged that the WPI had been using the structure in contravention of land-use norms.
“It was also stated that the people kept coming and going all the times of day and night, and park their vehicles on the road, creating a constant problem to the residents [sic],” the affidavit says. “A request was made in the complaint to enquire into the matter and take necessary action.”
The affidavit claims that the PDA had issued notice to the family on 10 May to grant them a hearing on 24 May. When they refused to accept it, it says, it was pasted on the wall of the building.
The affidavit claims that, meanwhile, the PDA received another complaint on 19 May demanding to know why no action was taken on the first one.
“On the date filed for hearing the matter, 24 May, neither Javed nor his representative nor anyone else appeared to show cause pursuant to notice dated 10 May and as such the PDA passed a demolition order dated 25 May to demolish the building no. 19C/2A/1, JK Ashiyana, Kareli, Prayagraj,” the affidavit says.
The state government says in its affidavit that it pasted the demolition order along with a letter on the boundary wall of Javed Mohammed’s house. The letter gave Mohammed 15 days to have the structure removed, the affidavit adds.
The PDA, it says, sent another notice to Javed Mohammed on 10 June to vacate the premises by 11 am on 12 June “so that the demolition of [the] building could be carried out”.
“The said notice was attempted to be delivered by hand at the premises on 11 June but it was refused by the family members,” the affidavit adds.
The government has also denied allegations that Fatima and her daughter Sumaiya were detained illegally.
“They were called to the police station in [the] afternoon of 11 June and they came with their relative Sayeed Ashraf and after interrogation for some time, they were sent to their house along with their relative with full honour and dignity [sic],” the affidavit states.
Fatima, however, denies that the family was sent any notice before the one sent on 11 June.
“No notices of 10 May, 25 May, and 10 June were ever served on the owner of the house Parveen Fatima. These notices were also not served on Javed Mohammed or any other member of his family,” the petition states.
Fatima also claims in her petition that the house was gifted to her by her father on 13 June 1996, and that she, and not her husband, owned it.
Fatima’s lawyer Roy told ThePrint that important details about the complainants — such as their addresses and their phone numbers — were missing from the complaints attached to the affidavit.
“It is such an important issue and important details of the complainants are missing from the complaints. Even in any normal complaint, a complainant does mention such details,” he said.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)