Meerut: Tensions High After Lathi Charge on Lynching Protesters, 50+ Arrested

Internet services in the city were suspended between Monday and Friday.

New Delhi: Days after the Meerut police lathi-charged a group of people protesting Tabrez Ansari’s lynching, the situation in the city remained tense and internet services remained suspended between Monday and Friday.

Ansari passed away in Jharkhand on June 22, four days after he was beaten by a mob who suspected him of being a thief. A fact-finding report has alleged that the police, who detained Ansari immediately but not his assaulters, did not give the injured man medical attention.

Last Sunday (June 30), a protest was organised at Meerut’s Indira Chowk against the attack and the police’s action. Reports say thousands of people attended. According to the police, the protest turned violence after the march ended, when people where going back, and a lathi charge followed.

The FIR is against 50 named and 800 unnamed persons.

According to the Indian Express, more than 50 people have been arrested in connection with Sunday’s protest already, including main accused Badar Ali. Ali will reportedly be charged under the National Security Act. The other accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections including 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 352 (assault), 336 (act endangering life personal safety). SSP Ajay Sahni had announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for anyone who had information on Ali before he was arrested on Thursday, The Hindu reported.

Ali, head of the Yuwa Sewa Samiti, had reportedly requested police permission for the gathering and been denied. The police claimed that Section 144 was in place and no assembly was allowed.

Also read: The India in Which Tabrez Ansari Died Continues to Live

A shopkeeper near Indira Chowk told the Indian Express that the police intervention made matters worse and increased tensions. “It was supposed to be a peaceful march. Yes, there was no permission, but the police action made it worse. Now that internet has been shut down and there is heavy police presence, people fear something might happen. Most people are not leaving home,” Noor Hassan said.

Since Sunday, police presence in the city has been high – including a flag march by senior officers. Personnel from the Meerut police, Rapid Action Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary have been deployed around Indira Chowk.

According to the Times of India, locals say that the police has arrested some people who had nothing to do with the protest.

A day after the Meerut protest, another group demanded that Ansari be declared a martyr outside a mosque in Mawana. According to the Indian Express, a lathi charge was conducted here as well.