UP govt takes tough posture against those opposing CAA

The state faces strong allegations of partiality and excessiveness as at least 20 people reportedly die and scores get seriously injured in clashes with police, reports Mudit Mathur

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, has taken a tough posture against the arrested protesters who came forward to demonstrate against passage of Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) and proposed legislation for National Register of Citizens. At least 20 people have died so far and scores seriously injured in clashes with police. UP Police has acted harshly on them across the state invoking strong allegations of partiality and excessiveness from civil society and opposition parties condemned it for trampling their lawful democratic right to free speech and peaceful demonstrations.

The Police claimed that, role of a new outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), has emerged in engineering violence during anti-CAA protests and state government has recommended the central government for banning PFI because of its alleged ‘disruptive activities.’ “Uttar Pradesh head of PFI, Wasim, and 25 other activists were arrested for masterminding the violence in the state during anti-CAA protests,” said DGP OP Singh supporting the demand to ban the organisation.

UP Police has detained more than 1,200 activists in jails ever since anti-CAA protests spontaneously broke out in the state. Police has registered 95 criminal cases and arrested 125 persons in connection with violence and riots. Cyber cell of police has taken action against 20,950 social media posts, including 10,380 Twitter, 10,389 Facebook and 181 YouTube and as preventive measures 5,558 persons had to furnish an undertaking to maintain peace and order.

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the PFI had fanned protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the state. He said the members of PFI were disguised as SIMI members. “Any anti-national in the state and country would not be tolerated,” the deputy chief minister said, adding that if SIMI comes out in a different form, it will be crushed.

Confirming the development, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on his Twitter handle posted that the role of PFI in violence is coming forward and Home Ministry will decide on further action based on evidence. There are many allegations against them including its connection with Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

The PFI on January 1 rubbished the allegations by the Uttar Pradesh Police that the organisation had played a key role in triggering violence during the anti-CAA protests in the state. Its General Secretary M Muhammed Ali Jinnah said in a statement, “The allegations were ‘absurd and a face-saving act’ by the Uttar Pradesh Police.”

“In most of the states, the police were respectful of people’s democratic rights to dissent. Only in Yogi Adityanath-ruled Uttar Pradesh, police brazenly turned protests into bloodbath and destruction,” the statement added.

“We condemn this move, which is nothing but a ‘face-saving act.’ We would like to tell them that their cold-blooded killings and maiming of innocents and the destruction of properties lay bare to the entire world,” he remarked. The statement rubbishing the UP Police theory have come a day after the state home department wrote a letter to central government seeking a ban on the PFI.

Earlier, the Raghubar Das-led BJP government in Jharkhand had banned the PFI under Section 16 of The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908 on February 21, 2018, on the basis of allegation that its members being ‘internally influenced’ by terror outfit ISIS.However, in August 2018, the Jharkhand high court had set aside government’s decision. The court also quashed FIRs registered by police against the PFI, an Islamic organisation.

Meanwhile, Yogi had announced recovery of cost of loss to the public property damaged during anti CAA and NRC protests from the troublemakers. Soon after this, the state machinery has started arbitrarily slapping attachment notices to such protesters. 

Lucknow administration had issued around 150 such show-cause notices setting out a 7-day deadline to respond their version.Ifthe committee is not satisfied with their explaination, further proceedings will be initiated to recover damages. Identical notices were issued to 28 people across Rampur district, where the administration holds them responsible for acts of violence and causing damage to government property. The authorities also sought an explanation as to why recoveries should not be made for damage worth 14.86 lakh.

“If they are not in a position to pay, their properties will be confiscated and auctioned,” said a senior official in the government. The rioters were identified through CCTV footage and photographs. The chief minister also directed the administration to forward video clips of
protestors to NHRC.

Protesting over mass discriminate arrests of peaceful protesters the congress party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a letterto Governor has demanded fulljudicial enquiry into the alleged ‘unlawful conduct’ of the UP Policeduring the course of public demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the implementation of a Nationwide National Register of Citizens. A delegation of UP Congress leaders appealed the Governor Anandiben Patel to give immediate directions to the UP Police to act within the framework of the law.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in her letter to Governor has leveled serious allegation of derelictionof duty on state police questioning its role to upheld rule of law. She accused that 23 deaths have taken place in the state due to police excesses and police brutality against the CAA/NRC protestors. “A full judicial inquiry is required into each and every one of these incidents to ascertain the culpability of the administration and the police and provide justice to the families of the deceased,” she added.

Her letter disclosed that in Nehtaur area of Bijnor distict, a 22-year-old young boy Anas was shot and killed by the police as he left his home to buy milk on the December 20, 2019. He ran a coffee machine to support his family.

Another 21-year-old boy named Suleiman was also shot dead by the police same day. Suleiman, a hard-working student preparing for the civil service entrance exams in Delhi, had returned home for a few days because had fever. Six people were shot dead in Meerut district of UP on the 20thDecember 2019 among them Saeed Ahmed, Saleem and Zaheer were daily labourers while Mohammed Mohsin worked as a scrap collector, Mohammad Asif was an e-rickshaw driver while Aleemuse to earn his livelihood by making rotis (chapatis). Asif was reportedly turned away from four hospitals without treatment while Zaheer was merely standing on the roadside smoking a cigarette while he was shot.

Congress party methodically informed the Governor about the happening and excess meted out to protesters. In Firozabad, six persons have been killed since the incident of police firing on 20 December, wherein Mohammed Haroon and Mohd Shafiq died in a Delhi hospital on December 26, 2019. Fourteen people were seriously injured in police firing. In Muzaffarnagar, Nooru aged 30 years was shot while participating in the protest on the 20th of December. The protest was peaceful and was heading towards Meenakshi Chowk, Muzaffarnagar when the local Member of Parliament Sanjeev Baliyan reached the spot with his supporters. As per the press reports, this group indulged in stone pelting as well as firing.

At Sambhal, two persons have died in police firing 20th of December 2019 whereas the city of Varanasi has witnessed a particularly tragic death. The police conducted a brutal Lathi-charge on a peaceful protest. This resulted in a stampede in which an eight year-old child was crushed to death on the 20th of December 2019. Another child, Mohammad Tanvir has also been severely injured. One person named Mohammad Vakil was killed in firing at Lucknow on the 19th of December 2019. While the police claimed that they had not shot him, press reports cite witnesses to state that he was, in fact, shot by the police, the letter alleged.

Combating Priyanka alleged that in Rampur, 24-year-old Faiz Ahmed was killed on the 20th Of December, 2019. His family reports that he was shot in the neck by the police.There have been three deaths during the protests in Kanpur city on December 20 and 21, 2019. The case of daily wage labourer, Raees has received considerable public attention. He was shot in the stomach revealing a clear intention on the part of the assailant, to cause grievous injury or death. Aftab and Saif, two more victims of police action, have died in similar circumstances.

The Congress party delegation consist of veteran congress leader Pramod Tiwari, P.L. Punia, state president Ajay Kumar Lallu, CLP leader AradhnaMisra Mona, former IAS officer Anis Ansari, Pramod Krishnam, NaseemuddinSiddiquiand others met the governor to hand over Priyanka Gandhi’s letter on 30th December. She also cited cases of unlawful conduct of the Police during CAA/NRC protests in the state.

The letter alleged that in Muzaffarnagar district, subsequent to police brutality against the protestors, it was reported that local residents were targeted on the intervening night of December 20th and 21st, 2019 with the intent to terrorize them and prevent further expression of their right to protest. A 22-year-old bride named Ruqaiya Parveen who was beaten up mercilessly by the police and receivedstitches on her head. Her family has stated that her jewelry was also stolen.The police entered and lathi charged the premises on which Maulana Asad Raza Hussaini, a 75 years old cleric resides. Although he had nothing to do with the protests, the Maulana was assaulted without any cause or justification. He was then
reportedly taken to the police station where he was tortured.

She raised the case of BHU students who faced brutal repression of peaceful protestors in Varanasi on the 19th of December, 2019 from the campus 12 students — Raj Abhishek Singh, 23, Anant Shukla, 25, Neeraj Rai, 24, Divakar Singh, 30, Vivek Mishra, 25, Rohan Kumar, 21, Chandan Sagar, 22, Deepak Singh, 24, Dhananjay Tripathi, 32, Ayurveda Ravindra Bharti, 25, were arrested despite a peaceful protest on December 19, 2019. Along with others, social activist couple Ekta and Ravi Shekhar were arrested for protesting in the Beniya Bagh area and have been kept away from their breastfed one-year-old child since.

“An audio clip purportedly in the voice of the Superintendent of police of Bijnor, Sanjeev Tyagi, is in circulation since the 21st December, 2019 in which he is directing his subordinates to ‘break the hands and legs’ of the protestors.”

“The role of the police in society is to maintain law and order, not to contravene the law themselves,” commented Priyanka expressing anguish over such oppressive role of the state police.

High drama was witnessed in state capital during the visit of congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on December 30, 2019, who has started reaching to masses at the grassroots as a part of long drawn strategy eyeing on 2022 state assembly elections. Despite UP police trying to stop her, block her car, manhandle her (police tried to catch her collar), Priyanka wasnot deterred. She walked almost 4kms to meet the family of former IPS officer S R Darapuri who become one of the victims of police action. Darapuri had unblemished track of record oflaw abidingpolice officer throughout his career.

She also went to console two minor child aged 16 and 10 years of Smt. Sadaf Jafar who are currently living all alone in her flat after the Lucknow police suddenly arrested her without her fault afterbrutally assaulted by police officers while in custody and implicated in 18 offences including attempt to murder. The Yogi administration has virtually shut the voices of dissent on CAA and NRC by brazen use police force and putting the protestors behind the bars. It may give him provisional reprieve but the scars of mistrust would take a long time to die down.