LUCKNOW — The Police Superintendent of Bahraich district has told a fact-finding team of human rights group United Against Hate (UAH) that a section of UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) was erroneously used in the 20th October FIR against Muslims following an alleged communal clash.
A six-member team of UAH, comprising activists Nadeem Khan, Khalid Saifi, Sadaf Jafar, Banojyotsna Lahiri, Sabah and former IG of Uttar Pradesh SR Darapuri visited Bahraich in Eastern UP in the first week of November. The team interacted with some of the local Muslim men who were booked by police, their family members, locals and police officers in-charge to assess the ground reality.
On 20th October, an alleged communal clash erupted during Durga idol immersion procession in Khaira village. Later, an FIR was lodged by one of the members of the procession against 80 named and 100-200 unknown Muslims. They were booked under six different sections of Indian Penal Code and one section of UAPA.
According to the FIR lodged at the Baundi police station, on the written complaint of one Ashish Kumar Shukla, those 80 Muslims along with 100-200 others were hiding on the way of the procession and when it was passing through the Khaira village on way to Badnapur for immersion, they attacked it. The complainant claimed in the FIR that the attackers were armed with guns, pistols, bombs and swords. He named three persons and 50-60 unknown persons from the procession who he said were seriously injured in the attack.
During the fact-finding visit, UAH team met the Police Superintendent of Bahraich district on 5th November and raised the issue of UAPA in the FIR.
“On speaking to Gaurav Grover, the Superintendent of Police of Bahraich, the SP who was newly transferred on the 27th (October) said that the police prior to him had “erroneously” attributed serious charges like UAPA. He said it was a typing error and the intention of the police was not to include UAPA. However, a probe has been ordered and the SHO has been suspended,” UAH said in a press statement.
“Although the SP was holding peace meetings and assured no one will be wrongly arrested, this incident brings to light once again the rampant atrocity and abuse of power by UP police, particularly targeting the Muslim community,” the group said.
Fearing arrest after the FIR, several Muslim families have fled the village. The UAH team found that several homes were locked even two weeks after the incident.