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New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government has invoked the stringent National Security Act (1980) against Welfare Party leader and activist Javed Mohammad, paving the way for his detention for up to a year without charge or trial.
Mohammad was arrested in the early hours of June 11, hours after Prayagraj witnessed some incidents of stone pelting in the Khuldabad locality after the Friday prayers of June 10 in protest against BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad.
Police claimed Mohammad was the “ring leader” of the violence – a charge he and his lawyers deny – and his residence was demolished by the authorities on June 12.
Speaking to The Wire on Saturday, advocate K.K. Roy – who represents Mohammad – said, “We have been told that NSA has been involved against Mohammad. However, we have not yet received the papers. More importantly, what we feel is that the charges are aimed at selectively targeting Mohammad since the police has failed to surface any substantial evidence that he was involved in the violence or that he incited any crowds.”
Roy stated that a disturbance or the intent to disturb law and order are critical factors to the invoking of NSA, which empowers the authorities to keep a person in detention for a maximum period of 12 months. “It is clear that until the 9th of June, Mohammad was in fact active in ensuring peacekeeping amid tensions. There is no evidence to show that he instigated any violence. Moreover, the law and order situation was maintained in Prayagraj – no curfew was even imposed – so essentially there is no basis for [the NSA’s] invocation.”
Protests erupted in several Indian cities on June 10, against the remarks made by former BJP leader Nupur Sharma.
Mohammad was shifted from Naini Jail in Prayagraj to Deoria Jail over ‘security’ concerns. Previously, the police had also claimed they found provocative material and weapons at Javed’s home – charges his family denies.
In a statement, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) condemned the invoking of NSA against Javed Mohammad, stating that the the state’s police is hiding its own inability to collect evidence against him by using the stringent law.