CAA Protests: UP Police Detain, Threaten, Beat Up Activists, Journalist in Lucknow

Robin Verma, of Rihai Manch, was brutally thrashed by police.

New Delhi: In what seems to be a massive crackdown on human rights workers and political activists in the state, Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police has arrested several activists in the state capital in relation to the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens protests.

Senior lawyer, human rights activist and president of Rihai Manch, Shohaib Ahmad has been in police custody since late on Thursday. Speaking to The Wire, Rajeev Yadav, general secretary of Rihai March confirmed Ahmad’s arrest.

According to Yadav, Ahmad was picked up by police from his home at 11.45 pm on Thursday. Sadaf Jafar, a socio-political activist associated with Congress is also under arrest.

Robin Verma of Rihai Manch was allegedly brutally thrashed by UP Police on Friday evening. Journalist Omar Rashid of The Hindu was also picked up for two hours, and abused and humiliated by the state police.

According to the first person account written by Rashid for The Hindu, despite identifying himself as a journalist he was forcibly detained on Friday.

“At the very first instance, I revealed my identity as a journalist and asked them what the matter was all about. However, they packed the two of us, Robin Verma and me, into a police jeep, snatched my mobile phone and asked me to not call or inform anyone or I would regret it. They refused to explain anything to me and asked me to talk only when they asked,” wrote Rashid.

Also read: CAA Protests Live: 11 Dead After Police Violence in UP; 35 Arrested in MP

He was released after two hours. Police claimed that there was some confusion about Rashid’s identity, however, he rubbished the claim. “There was no confusion. They knew who I was. In fact, I told them several times,” Rashid told The Wire.

As per Rashid, the policemen badly beat up Robin Verma. “The cops repeatedly asked me about the whereabouts of some “Kashmiris” and where I was hiding them. I replied to all their questions in the negative as I had no clue why I was brought there in the first place. A few minutes later, two policemen, of the rank of CO, came in. I was told to stand up. The police officer, whose name I don’t know, told me he would set me right. He was wearing protective gear. I was then taken to another room in the quarters of a constable, where I was also photographed like a suspect,” he wrote in his first account.

Former senior police officer of UP and human rights activist, S.R. Darapuri has also been held since yesterday. “He is under arrest since Friday. Initially, he was kept in Ghazipur police station but is now locked up in Hazratganj police station,” Darapuri’s son Ved Kumar told The Wire on Saturday, adding, “I am told that he is likely to be produced before a magistrate.

On Friday, when three women activists Arundhati Dhurru, Meera Sangamitra and Madhavi went to Hazratganj police station to inquire about the whereabouts of Ahmad and meet Darapuri, they were also detained.  They were later released late in the night.

It can be noted that ahead of scheduled protests against CAA and NRC, several activists were put under house arrest on Thursday. This included Ahmad, Darapuri and Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey apart from several others. The Wire tried calling the police superintendent of Lucknow but could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon, civil rights group United Against Hate (UAH) alleged police violence in several cities of western UP such as Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr, Rampur, Bijnor and Firozabad. “Many people still detained. We urgently need journalists, lawyers and activists to go to some of these places and get the ground report, provide immediate relief,” read the message sent by Nadeem Khan, convenor of UAH.

On Thursday, the state government had suspended mobile internet services and SMS of all mobile service providers in Lucknow till Saturday noon.