On Wednesday, the Uttar Pradesh government submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court clarifying its stand on the demolition of illegal properties in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The government said that the demolition was carried out under Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1972, and had nothing to do with the riots.
The Court was hearing the petition filed by Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind that sought directions to the Uttar Pradesh authorities to ensure that no further demolitions of properties are carried out in the state without following due process. The petitioner alleged that the government had deliberately razed down the properties of one particular community and had not even served notices before demolition.
The state government on June 23 stated that the petitioner has attempted to give a mala fide color to lawful action taken by the local development authorities as per the procedure established by law. It alleged that the applicant resorted to cherry-picking one-sided media reporting of a few incidents and extrapolating sweeping allegations from the same against the State.
“The said demolitions have been carried out by the local development authorities, which are statutory autonomous bodies, independent of the state administration, as per law, as part of their routine effort against illegal constructions, in accordance with the 1972 Act. Regarding two demolitions in Kanpur the house owners had admitted illegalities in the construction”, the UP Government added in an affidavit filed in response to a plea.
The plea that was filed by the Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind on June 16 specifically highlighted some of the recent demolition cases and alleged that the state government had targeted people of one particular community and had demolished the properties of only those who were involved in the ‘protests’. Refuting strongly the allegations, the state told the Supreme Court that in case of the recent protests, the government was already taking stringent steps against the accused under the CRPC, IPC, UP Gangster and Anti Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, Prevention of Public Property Damages Act and Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020.
“It takes strong exception to the attempt by the petitioner to name the highest constitutional functionaries of the state and falsely colour… the local development authority’s lawful actions strictly complying with the Act as ‘extra legal punitive measures’ against accused persons, targeting any particular religious community. All such allegations are absolutely false and are vehemently denied”, the state government was quoted.
The government meanwhile also referred to some of the recent demolition cases in Kanpur and Prayagraj and affirmed that the owners of the properties had agreed to the illegalities of the construction but had failed to appear for the hearing. Action by the Kanpur Development Authority and Prayagraj Development Authority was executed only after serving several legal notices.
Demolition of illegal property owned by Kanpur violence accused Mohammad Ishtiaq Ahmed
The Kanpur Development Authority (KDA) on June 11 demolished the illegal property owned by Mohammad Ishtiaq Ahmed who is a close aide of the Kanpur violence mastermind Hayat Zafar Hashmi. KDA administration officials, and Rapid Action Force personnel were also present along with the police force on the spot when the demolition was carried out. While many speculated that Ishtiaq Ahmed’s property was razed to the ground because of his connection with the Kanpur violence, the Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday stated that Ishtiaq Ahmed was sent the demolition notice on April 19.
Bulldozer in Reaction in Kanpur on Illegally constructed building of Md Ishtiaq Khan a close associate of Kanpur Vi0lence mastermind Hayat Zafar Hashmi #Kanpur #KanpurViolence pic.twitter.com/v43834LNhc— Rosy (@rose_k01) June 11, 2022
Elaborating the instance, the state government added that the Ishtiaq Ahmed in Kanpur had built commercial property on the residential land without the permission of the KDA. The KDA approved the residential property plan in the year 2016 but Ishtiaq Ahmed was constructing a commercial property there. He was issued a show-cause notice on August 17, 2020, to stop the construction and was asked to appear for a hearing on August 28.
As neither he nor his representatives responded to several similar notices, the property was sealed by the authorities and an FIR was lodged. The KDA then issued a demolition notice to Ishtiaq Ahmed and had given 15 days to demolish the unauthorized construction. Failing that, the KDA itself demolished the property on June 11.
After the demolition, one of the KDA officials had clarified that the act of property demolition had nothing to do with the Kanpur violence and that the owner was already sent a demolition notice. “This property belongs to some Mohammad Ishtiaq. The order to bulldoze this was passed already. Today’s date was set by the authorities to bulldoze the illegal section of this building. This is a routine procedure and the action is taken according to the same. Concerned officers who had listened to the matter had served them with prior notices. A residential plan was passed for this building but they were making a commercial one”, KDA Secretary Shatrohan Vaishya had said on June 11.
Another accused Riyaz Ahmed was constructing illegal petrol pump
Reportedly, the KDA had also demolished the under-construction petrol pump owned by Riyaz Ahmed on June 11. Ahmed who is also booked in the case of Kanpur violence had taken no prior permission from the authority for the construction of the petrol pump. He was issued several notices from February 23 to March 8 and the final demolition notice was issued on April 20 this year. As the accused or his representatives failed to respond to the notices, the KDA executed the demolition on June 11.
“In both the cases”, the state government said, “applications were filed by Ishtiaq Ahmed and Riyaz Ahmed on June 17 wherein they admitted the illegality and irregularity in the construction. Iftiaq’s son Iftikar had said that the non-compoundable portion of the construction would be demolished by the dependent himself, thus admitting the offense of illegal construction”, the government added in the affidavit on June 22.
Javed Ahmed had build office in residential land, was issued several notices
Further referring to the case of demolition of illegal property of Javed Mohammed in Prayagraj, the state said that he was issued a demolition notice in May and was asked to remove the illegal construction by June 9. The authority had also issued a notice on June 10 to Javed Mohammed to vacate the property that was unlawfully constructed. Javed Mohammed is the prime accused in the violence that erupted in Prayagraj former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s allegedly derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad.
UP | Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) has put a demolition notice at the residence of Prayagraj violence accused Javed Ahmed asking him to vacate the house by 11am today as it is “illegally constructed”. pic.twitter.com/lOAtIlleDp— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) June 12, 2022
According to the reports, the Javed Mohammed had constructed an office in the residential area without taking permission from the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA). The PDA noticed a marble nameplate with the name ‘Javed M’ installed on the boundary wall and a signboard showing ‘Welfare Party of India’ above the boundary wall of the property. The PDA has sent a show-cause notice and several similar notices from May 10 to May 24 and decided to demolish the property on June 12.
Severe violence erupted in the cities of Kanpur and Prayagraj in the first week of June after Islamists came out on the streets in protest against ex-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. They raised slogans against her and demanded her arrest. The rioters also pelted stones at the police officials and civilians disturbing the peace and law and order in the area. Several injuries were reported.
The UP Police later arrested Hayat Zafar Hashmi and his aides Ishtiaq Ahmed and Riyaz Ahmed as prime accused in Kanpur violence and Javed Mohammed from Prayagraj for planning the violence in Prayagraj. The state on June 22 refuted the allegations made by Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind which claimed that the state had bulldozed properties of the accused of their involvement in the violence. The State asked the Court to dismiss the petition clarifying that the demolition of properties was carried out in accordance with the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1972, and had nothing to do with the riots.