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Prophet Row: Mere ‘hearsay evidence’ against Prayagraj violence accused

Brick-bats lie on the road as police personnel attempt to disperse agitators during a protest over the controversial remarks by two now-suspended BJP leaders against Prophet Mohammad, after the Friday prayers on June 10, in Prayagraj. | Photo: PTI

The remarks against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) drew backlash from around 15 Islamic nations, with the Centre claiming the remarks were the views of “fringe elements.”

TCN Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI —  The case against Javed Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the June 10 violence at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh is apparently based on hearsay instead of solid evidence. The police, as per the grounds cited to book him under the draconian National Security Act (NSA), are majorly relying on the purported statements of the witnesses.

Interestingly, of the 60 alleged eyewitnesses, 54 are police officials. There are striking similarities in the language of the FIRs and the alleged corroborative witness statements. Few sentences of paragraphs in the FIRs and alleged witness statements are ad verbatim. 

A few sentences or paragraphs mentioned below can be found in all three FIRs and in the purported statements of the eye-witnesses.

Hazaron logon ki ugra bheed uttejnatmat unmaad phailane waale dharmik naarebazi karte hue police/PAC bal par hamlawar ho kar jaanlewa pathraw karne lagi (raising religious slogans and spreading hysterical frenzy, a furious mob of thousands resorted to deadly stone pelting while attacking the police/PAC force)”.

Dharmik vidwesh wa unmaad phailane ki niyat se dharm vishesh ke sambandh men narebazi karte hue bheed atyant hinsak ho gayi (the crowd turned violent, raising slogans against a particular religion with the intention of spreading religious hatred and frenzy)”.

Log daudte hue, maan-bahan ki gaali dete hue, jaan se maarne ki dhamki dete hue tatha naarebazi karte hue apne haathon men patthar wa bomb liye daurte aa rahe the aur kah rahe the ki police walon kaafir hain, inhen qatai nahin chhodna, inko maaro, maaro (with stones and bombs in their hands, people were running — hurling abuses and shouting not to spare policemen and kill them as they are infidels)”.

Nabaligh bachchon ko bhi uksakar narebazi wa pattharbaazi karai gayi (minors were too instigated and made to raise slogans and indulge in brick-batting)”.

Notably, the narration of the incidents in the purported statements of “independent” witnesses Umesh Chand Jaiswal, Amit Gupta, Sumit Nishad and Anitesh Kumar Srivastava — are also ad-verbatim.

The rest two witnesses (Md Salim and Md Meraj), suggest the police records, too have got their statements recorded verbatim. 

…dinank 10-06-2022 ki ghatna ke baad abhi bhi log dare sahmen hain tatha apne apne gharon men dubke hain, dukane bhi band hain, logon ke mann men abhi bhi darr bana hua hai. Prashasan ke laakh samjhane ke bawajood bhi logon ke mann se darr nahin nikal pa raha hai,” read their alleged statement. 

(…following the incident dated 10-06-2022, people are still scared and hiding in their homes. Shops are also closed. Fear still remains in their minds. Despite the administration’s attempts, people are unable to get rid of the fear.)

The police reported the violent agitation against the offensive remarks against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by now-axed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nupur Sharma in three FIRs (0118/2022, P.S. Khuldabad; 0175/2022, P.S. Kareli; 0176/2022, P.S. Kareli). 

But the FIRs were filed the next day of the incident after an unexplained delay of 12-18 hours. Even the narration of the incident in the FIRs, which have accused Muslim activists of planning the violence at Atala, Asghari Tiraha and Shaukat Ali Chouraha in the city, are near identical.

The police have alleged that a mob of thousands with children took to the streets after the Friday congregational, throwing stones, shooting pistols and lobbing bombs, gravely injuring three security personnel and destroying police vehicles.

Despite over 5,000 people hurling bombs and opening gunfire, as per the FIRs, none of the policemen or any passer-by suffered injuries either caused by the explosives or the bullets. No FIR has been filed by any common citizen. Even the prosecution has not submitted any grave hospital report.

The first FIR was registered at 03:13 hours on June 11 (14 hours after the incident) against 70 named and 5,000 unnamed accused under severe IPC sections of 307, 395, 436 and 506, including 19 others, in addition to sections 4 and 5 of the Arms Act, section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, section 83 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act and sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

The second FIR was registered against 14 identified and over 200 unidentified individuals, including well-known activist Javed Mohammad, around 18 hours after the incident. It has been recorded under the same sections of the same legislation as if the first case.

The third FIR under the same sections was lodged against 11 named and over 250 unnamed accused nearly 19 hours after the incident. 

Registration of two FIRs in different police stations for the same offence is in violation of a 2001 Supreme Court judgment (T.T. Antony Vs State of Kerala & Ors), which says only one FIR can be registered for one crime.  

The top court more recently in the case of Mohammad Zubair, co-founder of the fake news buster website Alt News, observed, “Contents of all FIRs seem to be similar. What seems to be happening is that as he gets bail in one case, he is remanded in another. This vicious cycle is continuing.”

Javed used Facebook to mobilise protesters: cops
Describing Javed, a well-known social activist of the region, as the “mastermind” of the incident, the police alleged the 53-year-old mobilised the protest through his Facebook post and by holding a “secret” meeting at a guest house in Kareli and by distributing handbills.

“Javed Mohammad alias Pump is the mastermind of the incident. He along with his accomplice provoked people to attack the police with stones and bombs. He has a criminal background and had played an active role during anti-CAA/NRC protests at Mansur Ali Park. He had given a call through a Facebook post and WhatsApp messages for people to assemble at Atala after Friday prayer and stage a violent protest,” alleged a police witness in his purported statement.

The allegation has been repeated ad verbatim by all police witnesses in their statements. Interestingly, Javed’s accomplices have been mentioned in all the purported statements in identical order. 

But there is no evidence (like his cell phone location, CCTV footage to prove his presence on the spot, etc.) in support of the claims made by the police witnesses been enclosed in the investigation records, accessed by

But his family claimed that Javed was at his residence throughout the day on Friday (June 10), went to offer Friday prayer at a nearby mosque and the family had lunch together. He went again in the evening to offer namaz and returned home. Riding his own Scooty, he then went at 8 pm to the police station where he was detained and later arrested.

The family claimed it has CCTV footage from a neighbour that shows him on a Scooty near his house at 2:27 pm, 30 minutes after the police say violence erupted in Atala, approximately 2.6 km away, and they have photos that show him following the police on his own scooty after they came to take him away later that night. 

According to the police, Javed led the protest at three different locations at a gap of of nearly 30 minutes each. The police theory says the violence at Atala began around 1400 hours, and it was followed rioting at other two locations at 1430 and 1500 hours respectively.  

However, locals claim that the violence did not continue for more than an hour. 

The police said he instigated people at Atala and violence erupted there, then he slipped into the mob and left for the second location. After turning the agitators against the police there as well, he left for the third location, led people and incited the violence.

Again there is no evidence, except the alleged statements of the witnesses, in support of the allegation.

Trashing the charges, the family said, “Given the heightened violence depicted in the FIRs, which are describing different incidents in two locations in the same area, he could not have been simultaneously rioting at two different places.”

Those who have been named as conspirators or masterminds, their participation in the anti-CAA protests have been cited to prove that they are criminals. 

They include Javed, a leader of the Welfare Party of India and an office bearer of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), Umar Khalid, an activist associated with the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Fazal Khan, a local leader of the Samajwadi Party, Shah Alam, district president of the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Zeeshan Rahmani, a local leader of the AIMIM, and Ashish Mittal, a doctor from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the general secretary of the All-India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha. 

While Javed was arrested and jailed in Deoria district, at least 200 km from his home town, the rest five accused are on the run. A non-bailable arrest warrant has been issued against them, and a reward of Rs 25,000 for information to locate them has also been announced.

He was booked on July 16 under the stringent National Security Act (NSA), 1980, which allows the state to detain a person without charges for 12 months.

Arrest after questioning or followed by raid?
While Javed’s family claimed that he went to the police station after he was called for questioning, riding his own Scooty on June 10 evening, the cops alleged in an FIR (0177/2022, P.S. Kareli) that he was arrested following a raid at his house on the “tip-off of an informer”.

“…an informer told us that accused Javed Ahmad (read Mohammad), who was involved in the violence, is present in his house with a tamancha (country-made pistol) in his possession. He can be nabbed and the pistol can be seized if the information is acted upon swiftly,” reads the FIR.

The informant cop, Ravi Kumar Katiyar of Kareli police station, said a raid was accordingly conducted at the accused residence at JK Ashiana Colony at Kareli and he was apprehended while “trying to flee from the rare gate of his house”.

Javed’s wife Parveen Fatima and his youngest daughter Sumaiya Fatima were also allegedly illegally detained the same evening for two days after the police took him away on 10 June. While they were let off, Javed was taken into custody.

Recovery of firearms, but no seizure memo
The police alleged a 315-bore pistol along with a live bullet was seized from the right pocket of his pant following a physical search of his body.

“Asked to show the licence mandatory to possess the firearm, he failed to produce it and offered apologies. Subsequently, he was arrested,” claimed the FIR.

Notably, the law requires a seizure memo duly signed by an independent witness to validate any such recovery from the possession of an accused. But, in this case, there is no such document.

The police claimed, “People who were around came there during the arrest, but when they were asked to testify, they refused to comply and left without revealing their names and addresses.”

The police claimed in FIR number 0179/2022, P.S. Kareli, recovery of two more firearms (315-bore pistol and 12-bore pistol) with four live shells was made during the demolition of his house on June 12.

The cops alleged it was discovered in black colour polythene from below a mattress by the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) officials when they were taking out the leftover belongings of the family to safety before demolition.   

The police also claimed to have found a khukuri (a machete type sharp edge weapon) and a pamphlet, allegedly asking people to gather at Atala at 2 pm on Friday and violently deal with those who create obstacles.

Notably, the demolition was carried out in presence of thousands of people and under full media glare, but no such recovery was shown on TV channels — which were doing live streaming of the incident. 

The police also failed to find anyone from the spectators or neighbours to sign the seizure memo at the spot. It was allegedly signed by the accused and police officials.

News channels showed a poster that said, “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty,” calling it incriminating material.


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