Rally organiser worked to swell protest: Police

The crime branch probing the August 11 Azad Maidan riots has found that main organiser Maulana Ahmed Raza held six meetings urging various groups to join the rally to condemn alleged attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and Assam, despite telling police he estimated around 1,200 to attend.

Raza (25) is also liable to pay damages of over Rs 2 crore for the violence that killed two people and injured 52, including 40 police personnel, as it was he who had officially sought permission for the protest.

The priest from Kurla was arrested on December 3 for criminal conspiracy, murder, rioting, causing damage to public and private property and unlawful assembly.

Crime branch officers said Raza claimed during questioning he did not inform police of the swelling numbers as he did not know he was supposed to. "He is claiming ignorance of the law, but that is legally not a valid excuse," said an officer.

A Bihar native, Raza has lived in Kurla all his life doing sundry jobs.

A few years ago, he completed a correspondence course from Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad University and moved to the UK after getting an international English language testing system certificate.

In the UK, he worked as a preacher. After returning to India in 2011, he started a madrasa in a rented shanty in Kurla.

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