The recent demolitions in Kanpur and Prayagraj were carried out strictly in accordance with municipal laws, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court, Live Law reported on Wednesday.
The state government made the statement in an affidavit in response to a petition by Islamic organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. The organisation has sought directions to the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no illegal demolitions take place in the state.
Earlier this month, civic administrations in Uttar Pradesh had razed the houses of those who allegedly protested against disparaging remarks made by two Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons about Prophet Muhammad.
It included the house of activist Javed Mohammed in Prayagraj. He was arrested for allegedly conspiring to carry out violent protests in the city to oppose the remarks about Prophet. The Prayagraj Development Authority claimed it had given Mohammed a notice on May 10 about the illegal construction. However, Mohammed’s family denied receiving any communication.
In the affidavit, the state government told the Supreme Court that the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind deliberately picked out the demolition of alleged illegally properties belonging to two persons named Ishtiaq Ahmed and Riyaz Ahmed in Kanpur and falsely linked them to cases regarding the violence.
The government claimed that the structures did not conform to permission granted for the construction. It also said that the Kanpur Development Authority had initiated proceedings against the two buildings much before the incidents of rioting.
“The petitioner has deliberately obfuscated the true facts to paint a nefarious picture of alleged mala fides on the part of the administration, and that too, without stating any facts on affidavit,” the Uttar Pradesh government said.
It claimed that in the case of the demolition in Prayagraj, the structure was a residential one but was being used as an office of a political party, according to India Today. “Notice had been issued on 10 May 2022, and demolition order passed on 10 June after the owner failed to appear or respond to show cause notice,” it said.
In contrast to the affidavit, political leaders and police officials in the state have repeatedly linked demolition of alleged illegal properties with incidents of violence in the state.
On June 11, state BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh had supported calls for demolishing houses of persons accused of instigating violence saying, “those whose homes are in the shadow of bulldozers do not throw stones at others”.
On June 4, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar had said that illegal properties of those who engaged in violence in Kanpur would be demolished, according to ANI.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court in the affidavit that the Kanpur and Prayagraj Development Authorities are statutory autonomous bodies and are independent of the state administration.