Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – Three Popular Front of India (PFI) members from UP, who were branded by the UP Police as “masterminds of the anti-CAA violence in the state”, on Wednesday narrated their ordeal with the police. They said they were ‘falsely implicated” by the police and insisted that they never took part in the protests, and nor were they present at the protest site in Lucknow on December 19.
Speaking to the media here, the front’s U P state ad-hoc committee convener Waseem Ahmed said he was not present in the anti-CAA protest at the Parivartan chawk in Lucknow on December 19. “ When my brother did not come to home that day, I went to different police stations to check whether he was arrested or detained. At the Hazarat Ganj police thana, police asked for my name and then arrested me. Police had also brutally beaten me up and hurled filthy abuses including the slur of being a ‘Pakistani’,” Wassem said.
Waseem said he was granted bail after two weeks, along with other falsely implicated activists like former IG SR Darapuri, Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sadaf Jafar etc. “I was further detained in jail by implicating me in new cases. As a result, I was made to spend more than 40 days in jail,” he said.
In the new cases also, he said the court had rejected the prosecution’s arguments against him and he was granted bail. The police had slapped around 18 cases including attempt-to-murder and sedition against him.
Waseem said the fresh round of arrests of innocent people by the UP police were aimed at projecting the PFI in a bad light and as an organization prone to violence. “We have filed a PIL in the Allahabad high court seeking a high-level judicial inquiry into the violence during the anti-CAA protests in the state,” he said.
Notably, the UP police had presented Waseem along with two other members — Qari Ashfaq Ahmad and Mohammed Nadeem — as “master minds” behind the violence by hiding their faces with black hood at a press conference in Lucknow. Qari Ashfaq said he went to Lucknow for purchasing some dresses for her new-born daughter who hailed from Barabanki.
“I was not in Lucknow when the violence broke out. I told the police that they could check this from CCTVs installed at many places in the city. I also told the cops, “If you find my presence, you can give any punishment to me. Even I pleaded with the magistrate I was innocent, the magistrate was convinced about this, but he sent me to jail,” Qari Ashfaq said, adding that he was picked up from the PFI office where he went for stay.
Nadeem said he was also picked up from the PFI office and he had no idea what was happening for three days. “For three days, they (police) interrogated me vigorously about the activities of the PFI, and I told them we were arranging a scholarship distribution programme. They wanted us to tell them more about PFI, and the cops did not allow us to sleep for three days,” he stated.
The PFI north zone president, AS Ismail, said the fresh arrest of Muslim youths branding them as PFI activists by the UP Police was nothing but an act of revenge against the organisation. He noted that the incidents of violence connected with people’s protest against the CAA, NRC and NPR have been reported from BJP-ruled states only, and mostly from UP.
“Various fact-finding reports have established that violence occurred in different districts of UP and these were masterminded by the police with the involvement of local Hindutva goons. Many video clippings and CCTV footage in circulation substantiate their lead role in the violence.”
Front functionary Ismail said, “The Popular Front strongly condemns the cowardly act of the inhuman Yogi government and its police, of making false allegations against the organisation and the recent arbitrary arrests, and calls upon the Muslim community and secular forces to come forward to raise voice against Yogi’s jungle raj in UP.”
When his attention was drawn to the claim of senior advocate of Supreme Court Indira Jaising that she did not get any money from the PFI for the anti-CAA protest, Ismail said it was only an absurd and baseless allegation made against the organization that it had funded the anti-CAA protests.