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
AZAMGARH, UTTAR PRADESH: As we read in PART ONE (Barabanki) and PART TWO (Bahraich), some poor persons from the minority community were slapped with the NSA or National Security Act in Azamgarh also following a communal violence. One of them is a barber who would run his hair-cutting saloon in a wooden kiosk, while another is a tailor. A team of rights group Rihai Manch visited their families here last week to find out the truth.
“Rejecting the demand for NSA against Amit Sahu, arrested for provocative Facebook post, and slapping some members of the Muslim community with the same act are politically-motivated,” said Rajeev Yadav, General Secretary of Rihai Manch who was leading the fact-finding team.
Background of the case
A local youth Amit Sahu allegedly wrote a communal, provocative post on Facebook on 26th April leading to tension in the area. Next day, an enraged group of the Muslim community gathered at the Saraimeer police station, demanding Sahu’s immediate arrest for hurting their religious sentiments. An FIR was lodged against Sahu under sections 66A and 295A of the IT Act and he was apprehended later in the night. However, not satisfied with the provisions of the law invoked (as the accused could easily get bail), scores of people gathered at the station again on 28th April and demanded that NSA be imposed on him. Later a clash erupted between the police and public, leading to police lathi-charge. Several people were wounded in the lathi-charge.
The police booked 34 people for the violence and 18 of them were arrested, but just before their release, NSA was imposed on three of them, said Rihai Manch while terming the police action as vendetta.
A brief about youths slapped with NSA
With an aim to find out details about the persons in jail under NSA, a team of Rihai Manch, under the leadership of its General Secretary Rajeev Yadav visited their families. Other members of the team were: Laxman Prasad, Masihuddin Sanjari, Anil Yadav, Tarique Shafeeq, Shah Alam Sherwani and Salim Dawoodi visited several villages including Sherwan, Rajapur Sikrauri, Surhi, Kharewan and Saraimeer and met the families.
Father of 23-year-old Asif, Iftekhar Ahmed told Rihai Manch that as usual his son had gone to his tailoring shop. He came home for lunch in the afternoon and returned to the shop. His brother Naushad had gone to the shop to buy vegetables from the market. The police picked both from the tailoring shop around 6:30 PM on 28th April. Asif has a 3-month-old son. “If he was involved in the violence, why had he gone to the shop,” asks his father. Three years back, he returned from Malaysia and opened the shop to earn livelihood in the home town itself.
NSA was imposed on him on 10th June but notice was issued on 18th June.
Father of 24-year-old Sharib, Mohammad Shahid said his son got married just 15-20 days before the arrest. His maternal uncle had called Sharib and his brother Wasiq at the marriage of his friend. When they were at the marriage when the violence erupted and both stayed there. They were picked by the police around 1 PM. Sharib’s newly-married wife had come to in-laws’ a few days before the incident. His father said that he was to be released on bail on 19th June when police reached his barrack in the jail late in the night and took his signature on the paper. NSA was imposed on him on 10th June but notice issued on 18th June.
Raghib’s father has passed away. His nephew Danish told Rihai Manch that his uncle had gone to his barber’s shop from where he was arrested on 28th April. Earlier he would run his saloon from a rented shop. After hard work, he bought a wooden kiosk recently and was running saloon from there. The family has no idea how they will run the home if he remained behind bars for long and how his case would be fought in the court.
The Rihai Manch team also met some people who were assaulted by the police, arrested but released after weeks in jail.
One of them is Abuzar. He told that he along with his friend Ahmed was going to attend a marriage in Kharewan when the chaos erupted and he went to Faizan Katra where some local shopkeepers had hid themselves inside the campus and locked it. The police broke open the campus gate and picked 12 people including him from there. They were allegedly brutally assaulted by the police. They were also beaten at the police station.
He said that he had got serious injuries but he was not taken to the hospital. He was presented in the court next day and sent to judicial custody while he was crying with pain. His lawyer filed plea in the court thrice for his medical treatment and then after a week, he was taken to hospital. After x-ray, it was known that his left hand and left and left femur bone were broken.
“Those in jail under NSA are poor and do small business and so there cannot be any threat from them to the society and the country. Therefore, there is no justification of NSA against them,” said Rajeev Yadav.
Recently, a delegation of Rihai Manch had met district officials in Barabanki and Bahraich seeking reconsideration of NSA slapped against poor people there.
Rajeev Yadav can be contacted on 9452800752