High-profile individuals narrate experience of police high-handedness on them in Uttar Pradesh during the current protests against the CAA
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Several high-profile individuals, victims of the police high-handedness in Uttar Pradesh in the course of the current protests against the CAA and other anti-Constitutional acts of the Modi government, narrated the ordeal they had in recent days, at an event held here on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Opposition parties questioned the silence of the Supreme Court, the National Human Rights Commission and other watchdog institutions over the “unprecedented” police brutalities” in UP.The CPI (M), CPI, RJD and the Loktantrik Janata Dal among other political parties here jointly presented before the media some high-profile personalities who were roughed up by the UP cops. Former UP IG Police, SR Darapuri, social activist Sadaf Jafar, Prof Pawan Rao Ambedkar and theatre actor and activist Deepak Kabir shared their harrowing experiences. They spent almost three weeks in police custody after their arrest on December 20 in the course of the protests against the CAA a day ago in Lucknow.
Opposition leaders vowed to bring the guilty cops to book and carry forward the movement against the new citizenship law. They alleged that the Yogi Adityanath government has turned Uttar Pradesh into a “police state”. They highlighted the blatant violations of human rights by the BJP-led Yogi government.
The 76-year-old Darapuri said despite being a former IG rank police officer, the police violated all his rights. “Even they (police) deprived me of food for 36 hours, as also refused to provide legal help. I was arrested without the permission of a magistrate, and then put me with criminals in jail. If they (police) had done this with an IG rank police officer, you could imagine what they had done with a common man,” he said
He explained: “First, I had been put under house arrest and a police team was posted outside my house when the demonstrations were taking place. However, I held a placard and stood at my gate to register my protest. When I came to know about the violence during the protests, I termed it wrong and said that a citizens’ peace committee be formed,” he said.
“In the evening, they came and took me in their vehicle to Ghazipur police station. Again, I was sent to Hazratganj police station. From there I was sent to a magistrate for my remand. I narrated my ordeal to the magistrate and he refused to give me in remand to the police and even chided the cops. Then I was again brought back to Hazratganj police station. I wasn’t given food. They even denied a blanket to me in this cold season. I managed to contact my son, who then got me a blanket. The next day, I was taken to a judicial magistrate for remand and I again narrated my ordeal. I was arrested from my house, but the police showed my arrest as having happened the next day from some park. My statement should have been taken under Section 161 but this was not done.”
The former top cop also revealed that all the arrested, other than himself, were mercilessly beaten up by the police. One advocate Mohammad Shoeb was also spared. “This was because of our old age”.
He said that ever since the BJP came to power, the police force has become highly communalised and is behaving in a partisan manner.
Darapuri also said that the Yogi government conspired to turn the protests into a Muslim versus Police issue, but this has failed. Police also arrested non-Muslims in large numbers. Those who indulged in violence on December 19 were from the BJP and the RSS, in order to defame the peaceful protest.
FAKE ENCOUNTERS IN UP
The former police officer also sensed political vendetta behind his arrest and said he had been pursuing the fake encounter cases in the state. “There were 5,000 such cases in the state since Yogi took charge, and 99 per cent of these were fake encounters targeting Muslims, Dalits and the most-backward sections of the society,” he added.
Congress activist Sadaf Jafar’s narration also resembled Darapuri’s story She had to face communal taunts and slur at the police station and in jail. “Abuses of the worst kind were thrown at me including communal invectives. I was held by the hair and hit on the stomach by a male policeman. At around 2am, when I complained about my blood pressure shooting up, I was taken to a hospital and given an injection and brought back to the prison. The doctors were not allowed to give me medication for the other bruises,” Jafar said.
She added: “The policemen were pontificating to me that Modi and Yogi have given everything to you (Muslims), even you were allowed to produce children, then why are you protesting? They hurled me with abuses and taunts like ‘Khaate yahan ki ho, and bajaate wahan ki ho (you eat here and sing the tunes of Pakistan)’,” she said.
“We were protesting peacefully along with teachers, professors and other members of the civil society in Hazratganj area. All of a sudden, a huge mob started pelting stones. When the situation calmed down a bit, we decided to walk back to our vehicle. Suddenly, police grabbed us and started abusing us and beating us. We were hit with batons on our legs and beaten mercilessly, after which we were taken to the mahila thana. There, women cops started beating me,” she said, and added that she kept asking the cops to inform her family about her detention, but the request wasn’t heeded.
Another victim of police atrocities, activist Deepak Kabir, said the UP police not only thrashed and abused him in custody but also labelled him an “urban naxal.”
Kabir said he was arrested by the police on December 20 when he went to the Hazratganj police station to inquire about the whereabouts of his activist friends, who were picked up by the police following the protests. “The SHO first snatched my phone, threw off my cap and dubbed me a ‘mastermind’ of the violence”.
“You are a krantikari (revolutionary), he recalled the cops as telling him.
Kabir said he was beaten up by 12 to 15 policemen with batons and by their arms, and was kicked for at least 10 minutes. “The SHO told them to tie my hands and legs and beat me as much as they can.” “Commenting on my long hair, a police officer said, ‘such a hairstyle is kept by Communists … these are urban naxals, prepare a list of urban naxals’.”
“My ordeal did not end there.” After getting a medical examination done at a local hospital, he was thrashed again on the orders of a senior police officer. “The district police chief ordered cops to beat up all the arrested so much, that they can’t sit for months; and make sure there is a 1.5 -2 inch swelling on their buttocks,” Kabir recalled.
Recounting his experience with the cops, Dalit activist Pawan Rao Ambedkar, who is a former mathematics university teacher, said, “The police hit me on my head; and after four or five blows, I was flat and they hit me wherever they could. I lost consciousness. I don’t think I came back to my senses after that. I was in a semi-conscious state.”
“There was a woman constable who hit me on my head many a time with her helmet. She hit me so much that the helmet broke,” he said, and added that he was also subjected to casteist slurs because of his social background.
“My name was enough for them (police) to think they can beat me. Our good education, good clothes, a good way of speaking meant nothing to the cops, as caste-based discrimination is ingrained in the society,” he said. “It was not the police revenge, it was an ideological revenge,” he said.
All the victims vowed that their protest and struggle will continue against the CAA, NRC and NPR. “We will go to court and also to the human rights commission to complain against my illegal detention and also the inhuman behaviour of the police,” they added.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged that UP has been turned into a police state. He highlighted the role of “police mitr’ in fomenting violence. He said most these were supporters of the BJP and the RSS and recruited without any criteria. Violence was reported only from the BJP-ruled states, that “smacked of a conspiracy to defame the protesters”.
Extending full support to the ongoing movement, CPI general secretary D Raja said 20 Opposition parties have chalked out a series of protest programmes. “We are now fighting a fascist state and not the secular democratic republic,” he said.
LJD chief Sharad Yadav said he never saw in his 43-year stay in Delhi that a prominent university (JNU) was attacked by masked goons. He said the present situation was worse than the Emergency days. RJD leader Manoj Jha said the BJP has given the rein of UP to someone who could not think beyond his ‘mutt’. CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat came down heavily on institutions which are claiming themselves to be watchdog of human rights. “Despite their presence, human rights violations are taking place on an unprecedented level. Neither the Supreme Court nor the Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu notice of it,” she said.
The Opposition leaders demanded compensation to the victims and to those whose properties were damaged and the withdrawal of all cases.