Punished before proven guilty

28 UP protesters to challenge  63 lakh public property damage recovery notice in court, reports Kulsum Mustafa

Lucknow: Twenty eight Uttar Pradesh protestors are all set to go to the High Court to challenge the 63 lakh  public  property damage notice imposed on them for the November 19, 2019 anti CAA protests in the state capital. Earlier on February 16, 2020, the government had sent recovery notices of one crore to 114 protestors, including poet and Congressman Imran Pratapgarhi for participation in anti CAA protests in Moradabad.

In view of Chief Minister Yogi Avaidhnath’s orders of dealing with the protestors sternly, the state’s Principal secretary (Home), Awanish Awasthi had ordered the collectors of all the violence — affected districts to assess the damage and send notices of ‘exempla nary fines” to the protestors. It was an arbitrary exercise and one where the both the extent of damage and the guilt were to be assessed and executed by the government authorities.

“This is totally insane, illegal and unconstitutional. How can the authorities prove us guilty without even giving us a chance to present our case before them. This is rule of dictatorship,” said former Director General Police, social activist S R Darapuri. He is one of the 28 people whose name figure in the list.

Contesting that he was under house arrest from Nov 18 till evening of No 19, he said the question of damaging  any public property cannot arise at all.

Human Rights lawyer and social activist Mohd Shoeb, teacher &social activist Sadaf Jafar were both appalled at this highly objectionable modes operandi of the government and said it is a way of silencing their voices and instilling fear in anyone who supports them or is motivated to stand up against injustice. They said that they will not buckle down under the pressure and will fight back come what may.

Sadaf, who was tortured before she imprison when she was doing live Facebook on Nov 19 at the protest site  said  that if to speak against a law that threatens to divide India is being anti-national she is happy to continue her protest against it come what may.

All three said that though they have still not received the notices but they are aware of such a list and they will, along with the others named in the order will have no resort but to go to the Court for reprieve. While Sadaf said that she will file her case as an independent, the other two were of the view that a joint petition by all the 28 will be filed.

Meanwhile Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath  continues his stand of a  strong action against the protestors  against the CAA and has not minced words in condemning not just the political parties like the Congress and the Samajwadi Party for fuelling the protests he has also charged some organization s for the terror-funding. He has not minced words and has stated in his address to the state Assembly during his  budget session on February 19. He is determined that protestors are dealt with firmly and taught a lesson for life.

On the government brutality in dealing with the protestors Yogi said that the state police force has done a commendable task and must be praised not condemned for work in dealing with the protestors. Yogi justified the firing and alleged that those who were protesting were anti-national and were shielding behind the Constitution and national flag.

He protected the police and said that protestors were killed by bullets fired from the crowd. Showing no sympathy for those shot dead Yogi told the house “Marne ko ayenge to zinda kaisey jaaeygay (If they come to die how can they go back alive).”

The chief minister’s speech has been highly criticized, especially his statement on the 22 deaths of protestors in the state by what is being alleged by police bullets and  police high handedness. His claims are a sharp contrast to what  But the then UP DGP O P Singh’s statement made to the media On December 27, 202 wherein he accepted that one person was shot by the police in the protests in Kanpur and Bijnore.

While Congress leader labeled him  ‘inhuman’ and General Dyer, the English general known for firing on the unarmed people in Jalliawala Bagh, the Samajwadi leader Ram Govind Chudhury called him totally ‘Insensitive’. Yogi’s statement has drawn a lot of flak from not just politicians and Opposition but also from among the masses.