‘Worse Than Emergency’: Rights Activist Mohd Shoaib Released After a Month in Jail

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Lawyer, rights activist and president of the Rihai Mach, Mohammad Shoaib

The septuagenarian lawyer alleged that the police abused him during interrogation. “The cops abused me; but when I objected to this, they threatened me that my entire family including my children will be put in jail.”

Zafar Afaq | Caravan Daily

LUCKNOW—Lawyer, rights activist and president of the Rihai Mach, Mohammad Shoaib, has been released from jail in Lucknow on Sunday morning, after the sessions court granted him bail. He was arrested on December 19 from his home following the outbreak of mass protests in the state against the CAA and NRC. Initially, he had been kept under house-arrest, followed by jailing.

Police has charged Shoaib with actions like “hatching a conspiracy against the government, attempt to murder, and rioting.”

“When I was arrested, I thought I will be released after a while,” Shoaib told the media personnel waiting outside the jail, upon his release. “Instead, I was shifted to this jail where I was kept for over a month, and I did not get bail all the while,” he said.

He was received by his supporters and forum members who waited for him outside the jail premises with garlands.

His arrest was part of the crackdown by the UP police and the state administration on anti-CAA protesters in December. Several other well-known social and cultural activists too been arrested during the crackdown. They have accused the police of custodial torture.

ABUSE FROM COPS

The septuagenarian lawyer alleged that the police abused him during interrogation. “The cops abused me; but when I objected to this, they threatened me that my entire family including my children will be put in jail.”

He said he was asked questions about Rajiv Yadav, the founding member of the Rihai Manch. The forum works in the field of human rights, providing legal support to those falsely accused of terror charges, also from the families whose kin were killed in (fake) encounters — a term for extra judicial killings by security forces, which have seen a spike in recent times in Uttar Pradesh.

During his interaction with the media, Shoaib slammed the government for trying to stifle the voice of the Rihai Manch. “Our volunteers are not afraid of this government,” he said. “We will continue raising our voice against the anti-people policies of this government, be it NRC or CAA.” He also stated that the Rihai Manch has decided to boycott the process of NRC even “if we are put in jail yet again.”

Shoaib has seen jail at the time of the Emergency in the 1970s under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He said the current situation was “worse than that in Emergency”. “That was declared Emergency and we were put in jail with B class detainees, but this time they locked us up with criminals.”

On the crackdown on protesters in Uttar Pradesh, Shaoib condemned the police excesses. “We want to see this country and its people free. We want to remain free and express our ideas with freedom. If there is any ban on this, we will fight it and we are ready to go to jail.”

SILENCE OF OPPOSITION

Questioning the “silence” of the Opposition, he said that it can prove detrimental. “We urge the Opposition to break the silence and become the voice of the public. If they don’t break the silence, we will speak against them.” Shoaib also vowed to continue the struggle of his forum for the release of his members and supporters. “Rihai Manch will help those who have no one to back, to get out of jail,” he added.

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