Days after district authorities in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki town demolished a mosque, the local police on Thursday lodged a case against eight people for alleged fraud and cheating to get the structure registered as a property of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, The Indian Express reported.

Ramsanehi Ghat Station House Officer Sachidanand Rai alleged that the accused had formed a committee and fraudulently got the mosque registered as a Waqf property in 2019. The then UP Sunni Central Waqf Board Inspector Mohammad Taha is among the eight accused, Rai said, according to the newspaper. The other seven include the committee Chairman Mushtaq Ali, Vice President Vakil Ahmed, Secretary Mohammad Anees and members Mohammad Mustakim, Dastgir and Afzal, PTI reported.

The First Information Report on the matter was based on a complaint filed by District Minority Welfare Officer Sonu Kumar. In his complaint, Kumar claimed that the mosque was within the the Ramsanehi Ghar tehsil (division) and was opposite to the residence of the sub-divisional magistrate. He said an investigation conducted by the tehsildaar (division officer) had revealed the “conspiracy”.

The case was filed under Indian Penal Code sections, including 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), The Indian Express reported.

The case so far

On May 17, the Barabanki administration demolished the mosque, suggesting that it was an “illegal residential complex”.

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board issued a statement the next day, calling the demolition an “act against law and misuse of power”. Zufar Faruqi, the chairperson of the board, said that the Allahabad High Court had passed an order on April 24, barring demolitions in the state till May 31. The board also said it will move court against the demolition.

However, District Magistrate Adarsh Singh said the stakeholders of the mosque were issued a notice on March 15 and asked to make submissions regarding ownership, following which residents of the complex had fled.

The managing committee of the mosque had challenged the validity of the March 15 notice through a writ petition in the High Court, submitting that they were faced with “imminent danger of a demolition” of the mosque.

The High Court, however, had dismissed the petition on March 18, saying that the notice served to the petitioners was for seeking documentary evidence, and not for demolition. It had directed the managing committee to file a reply to the notice within 15 days, in addition to the one already filed.

The district magistrate claimed that after the petitioners submitted their replies on April 2, it was proven that the building was “illegal” and accordingly, the demolition was carried out on May 17.