Anti-CAA Activists Continue to Face Witch-hunt in UP

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Anti-CAA protesters and activists are being booked under draconian Acts, arrested and externed in Uttar Pradesh. — File photo

Zainab Siddiqui, a Lucknow-based activist, alleged that she and her family members were being targeted by the UP police because they had participated in the anti-CAA protests

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

LUCKNOW — Social activists from Uttar Pradesh on Monday said that the state police continued to target those who took part in anti-CAA protests months ago when the discriminatory citizenship law was passed by Parliament.

Anti-CAA protesters and activists are being booked under draconian Acts, arrested and externed.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was approved by the Narendra Modi government last year in December, faced massive criticism in India and all over the world.

Zainab Siddiqui, a Lucknow-based activist, alleged that she and her family members were being targeted by the UP police because they had participated in the anti-CAA protests. On the evening of 5 November, a team of security forces went to her house, beat up her family members and arrested her 52-year-old father Naeem Siddiqui.

Zainab, who is associated with National Alliance for People’s Movement and Mahila Yuva Adhikar Manch, told Clarion India that plainclothes policemen came to her house to arrest her father without any warrant. They said it was an order from higher authorities. They beat up her sisters and 16-year-old younger brother Mohammed Shaad when they went to protect their father.

They took her father along with her brother to the Hasanganj police station and started beating him up. Later, the father and brother were taken away from there to some unknown place.

The next day, on 6 November, her younger brother Shaad was released. He told Zainab that the police forces beat him up the whole night at the Sarojni Nagar police station. “He was beaten up like criminals. What was the crime of the 16-year-old boy? He was not given food the whole night. He was made to sit on his knees. Communal slurs were hurled on him,” alleged Zainab.

She said that her father was still in police custody. He was arrested under Sections of 153, 505 and other charges. He was accused of sharing WhatsApp messages asking people to observe special prayers on Friday and put up black flags on their houses and shops to protest against French President Macron.

The Lucknow police confirmed to mediapersons about the arrest of Siddiqui over the anti-Macron messages. However, Zainab feels that they are being targeted because they were part of anti-CAA protests.

UP-based activist Rajiv Yadav questioned the arrest of Zainab’s father over anti-Macron messages. “Is taking the name of French President a crime? According to which law, it is a crime? People are here performing havan for Trump, but opposing Macron becomes a crime,” he said.

Yadav told Clarion India that this behavior of the UP government towards activists continued unabated. The case of Zainab came to light because it happened in Lucknow. There are many such cases happening in small cities. He said that in Mau district, many anti-CAA protesters were booked under NSA, the Gangster Act and the Goonda Act over their protests. Many of them were externed. Some of them were accused of supporting local MLA Mukhtar Ansari.

“A day before the arrest of Zainab’s father, the police announced a bounty on the name of some activists terming them ‘gangsters’. Posters of some activists were put up again. In the case of putting hoardings, the High Court took notice and ordered removal of the posters. The case is pending in the Supreme Court. Despite this, the government arbitrarily is putting up posters. This is the misuse of power,” said Yadav.

Since massive protests were organised against CAA across UP last year in December, the UP police booked and arrested thousands of protesters. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had vowed to take revenge against those who were involved in any kind of violence. The government decided to attach properties of the protesters for damage recovery. The government also put up hoardings with the personal details of anti-CAA activists. Recently, the UP Police reportedly announced cash prizes for those who will give information about anti-CAA protesters.

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