MEET FOUR POOR MUSLIM FAMILIES WHOSE BREADWINNERS ARE LANGUISHING IN UP JAIL UNDER NSA

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Rights activist Rajeev Yadav (right in white shirt) interacting with family members of Zubair who is in jail under NSA in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh.

Since Yogi Adityanath of BJP became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, there has been a surge in the number of people, mostly poor Muslims and Dalits, being jailed under provisions of the draconian NSA law. Here is a series of stories on such victim families — Editor

PART ONE

Caravan News

LUCKNOW: More than two and half months have passed since they were arrested from homes day after a minor communal clash in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. They were arrested under normal criminal laws but exactly when they were getting released on bail, a draconian law NSA (National Security Act) was slapped on them and they have since been in the jail. Their families opened their hearts and homes before a team of human rights group Rihai Manch during a recent visit.

Background

On 14th March 2018, on the occasion of Maha Shiv Ratri, an idol procession was passing through Mahadeva area in the Barabanki district. Hundreds of people were on tractors in the procession. Some of them allegedly threw colors on a young Muslim girl who was going on a bike with her brother. When her brother opposed, some members of the procession assaulted the youth.

“Shah Fahad was taking her sister on bike. Some people in the idol procession threw colors on the girl, leading to scuffle. And then clashes erupted between the two communities in the Mahadeva area. Twelve people, all Muslims, were arrested, many of them from their homes next day. When they were getting released on bail, four them of them were again sent to jail as they were slapped with NSA,” says Rajeev Yadav who headed the Rihai Manch delegation to the homes of the four families. Other members of the delegation were Srijanyogi Adiyogi, Laxman Prasad, Virendra Gupta and Nagendra Yadav.

They met families of Rizwan, Zubair, Ateeq and Mumtaz – the four who were slapped with NSA. They also met 55-year-old paralyzed man Jan Mohammad, father of Rizwan and himself an accused in the case. The delegation also met Shah Fahad, whose sister was hit with colors, to know the truth. Fahad is also an accused but out on bail.

Family of Rizwan:

Jan Mohammad, father of Rizwan, a daily wager, shows carry bags hanging from the wall. They are full of medical reports. Jan says: “Veins of my brain are ruptured. I am paralyzed on the right for one year. I am unable to move my hands and feet. But the Police have also made me accused as a rioter.”

Jan’s wife Shakila says, “We are facing grave injustice.” Pointing towards her husband Jan Mohammad, she asks the Rihai Manch delegation: “Can this man can fight?”

Jan Mohammad runs a cycle repair shop in a kiosk. As he is sick for one year, his son Taj Mohammad, who is affected with polio, is running it to meet both ends of the family as elder brother Rizwan is in jail.

Rihai Manch delegation meeting a victim family in Barabanki

Rizwan’s wife Rubi says: “My husband had gone to his maternal village to attend last rites of a relative. He returned late in the evening. Next day at 10 AM, police came and took him along and he has since been in jail.”

Rizwan has two sons – one is 3 years old and another is just four months old.

“My husband was a daily earner. Since he was sent to jail, we have been facing lots of problems,” says Rubi.

Family of Mumtaz:

Mumtaz’s mother Kausar Jahan recalls the day when he was repairing the roof of their kuccha house and police came and picked him. He has not since returned. She does not know about NSA.

Mumtaz’s father Qamruddin says his son would work as a daily labor to earn livelihood. “If he was a rioter, he would have fled. Why would he be repairing the thatch. See the condition of the home. He would just barely feed the children by doing labor work.

Family of Ateeq:

Ateeq’s father says he had gone to meet Dr. Rehan Rashid in Indira Nagar as he is facing some neuro problem. When he came to know about the tension in the village, he did not return from Lucknow.

It was Ateeq’s brother Shah Fahad who was coming with his sister on the bike when she was hit with colors. “People were coming on trollies. Some boys threw colors on my sister and when I opposed they started beating me. Some of them also saved me and I came home,” says Fahad, who was also arrested but released on bail.

Family of Zubair:

Zubair’s wife Zubaida also claims innocence for her husband. She says her husband had gone to Barabanki on that day (14th March). He is a roadside vendor. As usual, when he came home in the evening, things had become normal. We were in the house. Around 9 AM next day, police came and took him.

Habib, father of Mumtaz, talking to Rajeev Yadav

Zubair has three children. After his arrest, condition of his home is not good. His father Habib says that he has a small tent business and family is large. Due to the case expenditure, condition of the family has got worse.

Questions Raised by Rihai Manch

After meeting the victim families and the villagers, Rihai Manch has put fourth two questions:

  • When clashes took place between two communities, why were persons from one community made accused and arrested?
  • If FIR from one community was registered, why wasn’t that from other community who says that tension spread after color thrown on the girl. Why didn’t police file FIR when the thing was so serious?

“In the case in which NSA was invoked, the first reason of tension – throwing color on the girl – was removed by the police from investigation and they tried to establish that the tension was created when the procession was coming,” says Rajeev Yadav of Rihai Manch.

“It also came to our notice that the incident was sudden and stopped after the clash. But next day people from Hindu Yuva Vahin and Hindu Samrajya Parishad gheraod the police station and local BJP MLA Sharad Awasthi put pressure and consequently people were arrested,” he adds.

In this case, twelve Muslims including a minor were arrested. They are Rizwan, Mumtaz, Ateeq, Zubair, Shah Fahad, Ghufran, Munna, Abrar, Mayassar Ali, Jan Mohammad, Saddam and 12-year-old Qadir. First four are still in jail as they are facing NSA charges.

Rihai Manch alleged that “to spread the tension, people like Adityanath Tiwari (local priest), Rajan Tiwari, Dr. Chandrodaya Shukla, Amit Awasthi, Pushpendra Awasthi, Deepak Awasthi, Umesh Tiwari and Pushpendra Singh played an important role, but no action was taken against them.”

Rihai Manch team standing in the house of Mumtaz, a daily laborer languishing in jail under NSA in Uttar Pradesh

“The priest has earlier also tried to create communal tension in the area. During the last Shiv Ratri, he had tried to create tension over removal of mikes from local Jama Masjid. This time too, rumor was created that idols were taken away from the procession, which was denied by the administration as a rumor,” it said in the fact-finding report.

Riha Manchi visited Barabanki as part of “its campaign against Manuvadi and communal conspiracy in the name of NSA”. In the next leg, the rights group will visit Kanpur, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut where it says several Muslims and Dalits have been arrested under NSA.

What is NSA?

NSA or National Security Act is an act of the Parliament promulgated in September, 1980. It empowers the Central Government and State Governments to detain a person to prevent him/her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of India, the relations of India with foreign countries, the maintenance of public order, or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do. Rights groups have alleged that this act has been grossly misused both for political and non-political reasons.

Eminent rights activist Rajeev Yadav, who is based in Lucknow, can be contacted at 9452800752.

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