Prominent anti-CAA leaders charged for violence in Prayagraj

Following the violence in the Atala area of Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh over derogatory remarks made by now suspended BJP leaders, police have booked five prominent leaders who were earlier active during the anti-CAA protests in the city. The families of these leaders maintain their innocence.

Violence erupted in Prayagraj on June 10 over remarks against Prophet Muhammad. | Picture Source: Indian Express

PRAYAGRAJ (UTTAR PRADESH) — Two days before violence erupted in the Atala area of Prayagraj (Allahabad) in Uttar Pradesh on June 10 over remarks against Prophet Mohammad by now suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, corporator of ward number 78 of Kareli area Fazal Khan had appealed to people to maintain peace through his Facebook account

The 35-year-old Samajwadi Party member Khan has worked hard for the development of his ward and is popular among residents of the Kareli area.

On June 11, Khan shared photographs on Facebook in which he can be seen directing sanitary workers during a cleaning drive in the area. Until then, he and his supporters were unaware that Khan had been named in the FIR lodged at Khuldabad police station after the violence at Atala.

Along with Khan, Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) activist Umar Khalid, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) district president Shah Alam, AIMIM leader Zeeshan Rehmani and All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) General Secretary Ashish Mittal were among 70 persons named in FIR for violence at Atala. The police have issued a non-bailable warrant against them and has learnt that all the five “have left their homes.”

Police officials said that further action which includes attachment of properties will soon be initiated against them if they fail to surrender.

The five leaders accused of violence in Atala were also active during anti-CAA protests in the old city. Their kin is struggling to prove their innocence.

“It was only through newspapers that we learnt that Fazal is also among those named in the FIR,” Mohd Kamil, a supporter of Fazal, told . Fazal himself made appeals for peace and warned the youths of the area not to attend any protests. Earlier he was arrested and spent many months in jail on charges of distributing objectionable pamphlets outside a mosque,” he added. 

Khan’s mother, Zareena Khan contested municipal elections in 2012 for the post of Mayor and has been vocal about the rights of labourers and workers.

“I have written a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath demanding a fair enquiry,” Zareena told “My son is popular among locals and is being framed in such cases as a part of the conspiracy. On June 10, he was attending a funeral at Lakhanpur village and was there from 12 in the noon to 8 in the night.” 

SIO member Umar Khalid is another co-accused in Atala violence. On June 10, Umar Khalid shared videos and photographs of the SIO convention at Azamgarh on his Facebook account. A few hours later he shared a screenshot of a news channel’s screen in which his name was being flashed as one of the accused wanted in violence at Atala. He claimed that he had nothing to do with the violence as he was not in Prayagraj on June 10. 

Umar Khalid is now also on the run, his family said. His brother Hamza Khalid has approached the court. 

“How can my brother be involved in attacking cops at Atala when he was attending the SIO convention in Azamgarh which is 200 kilometres away from here. We are requesting the officials to initiate a fair enquiry into the violence and remove the names of those from the FIR who were not involved in the violence,” Hamza told 

In March 2020, Umar Khalid was arrested after the anti-CAA protests at Roshanbagh on the charges that he was among those who attacked a police team during Janta Curfew at Atala. He was later granted by a local court after being in jail for over four months. 

Besides Khan and Khalid, AIMIM district President Shah Alam and party leader Zeeshan Rehmani and AIKMS leader Ashish Mittal played an active role during the anti-CAA sit-in at Mansoor Ali Park in Prayagraj. 

Senior lawyer KK Roy is now preparing to file an appeal at the court on their behalf. “These people have been targeted by the administration as they took part in 66 days of a peaceful sit-in at Mansoor Ali Park. Police framed them in the case related to violence at Atala but it will be challenged before the court. The government is afraid of people who are secular and believe in democracy and peaceful protests,” Roy told 

In a statement issued on June 11, AIKMS condemned the Prayagraj administration and UP Government for linking Ashish Mittal to the disturbances in Prayagraj and Kanpur. “AIKMS had opposed the implementation of NRC and CAA by the government and this was the reason that our leaders are being targeted,” the statement said.

In response to ADG Prayagraj Prem Prakash’s statement given to media persons, Dr Ashish Mittal through a press statement said that “allegations against me are completely fabricated. Neither I nor any person from AIKMS has any association with the incident and we challenge the government to present any proof against use. On June 10, I was present at the court of ACM (second) in Prayagraj in connection with the charges of issuing some statements on the Kanpur riots which are also false.”

Circle Officer Shahganj Satyendra Tiwari told that 103 persons have been arrested so far in connection with violence at Atala on June 10. “Fazal Khan, Shah Alam, Zeeshan Rehmani, Ashish Mittal and Umar Khalid are wanted by police for their role in the violence. A non-bailable warrant has been issued against them and further action will soon be taken with the permission of the court,” Tiwari added.

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