Named, ashamed and living in fear: Anti-CAA protests and the accused at Lucknow

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On March 16, the Lucknow government sent 20-year-old Osama Siddiqui and 12 others a “solicitation notice” stating that they would deposit £ 21.76 plus a 10% collection fee within a week. If they did not, they would be confiscated or even under the U.P. arrested. Revenue code from 2006. Since the family was not at home, the officials stuck the bill on the door of their house in Khadra in old Lucknow.

Yasmin Siddiqui, Osama’s mother, was excited. Osama was accused of vandalism and arson during protests against the 2019 Citizenship (Amendment) Act on December 19 in Lucknow. He’s on bail after spending three weeks behind bars. “You made him guilty without a question. Our boy was not involved, ”she said. The announcement was released after an additional district judge judged liability against 13 people for damage to public and private property in the Hasanganj police station area during the protest. This particular call for proposals was a continuation of the series of communications and orders issued by the administration to 57 people, including the 13 people who have been accused of vandalism in the city with a “common subject” since late December.

Read also | Police banners in Lucknow are now showing anti-CAA protesters accused of violence

The individuals listed were asked to cumulatively pay the government a penalty of 1.56 crore or risk confiscating their property. The sum was divided into four police station areas where violence prevailed: Qaiserbagh (1.75 Lakh), Hasanganj (21.76 Lakh), Hazratganj (64.37 Lakh) and Thakurganj (67.73 Lakh). Even as the defendants attempted to recover from the shock of receiving the news, the government dramatically escalated the matter on March 5, when they sheltered around 100 major roadside hoardings in key parts of the city under the cover of the night erected with the name, photos and home addresses of the accused. The billboards did not mention that no court had yet convicted them of the indictment, and almost all of them were out on bail. The intent of the U.P. Government was clear: Cabinet minister and government spokesman Sidharth Nath Singh tweeted: “The name and shame of the rioters will deter the yogi regime”.

Osama, a third year B.Com student, declined to be interviewed. Yasmin shared Osama’s experience on December 19. Until 2:00 p.m., she said, he spent time with his friends in the alley in front of his house. Then he ventured to a stationery store whose family was not aware of the violence at a distance. He sought shelter in a neighborhood house to escape violence, but was caught by the police when they were looking for other members of the mob.

However, the additional district judge found no reason in Osama’s allegation that he ventured 2 km away from his home when all the shops were closed. On that day, the police used the public address system to call protesters back to their homes because bans had been enforced. “It is not possible for a peace-loving person to buy stationery near the protest site,” said the restoration order against Osama, one of the many who are being accessed The Hindu. However, in the order of direct evidence, be it a photo or a video, there was no mention of Osama being involved in the violence, other than his awkward presence.

Yasmin was upset. Not only did Osama miss an investigation because of his detention, but after bailing out, he had to fight the stigma caused by the name and pubic boards. Osama is reluctant to attend college events these days because he is overwhelmed by curious phone calls and haunted by mocking videos that his colleagues on Tik Tok shared from the hoarding, said Yasmin.

“Name and Shame” posters | The Allahabad High Court orders the removal of hoarding

As the family prepares for a lawsuit, their immediate concern is the high amount that is required. If the case is on trial and Osama has not yet been found guilty, why should he be asked to pay, Yasmin asked. Her husband no longer has a job or business. Their main source of income is the rent they earn from part of a renovated building that they once ran as a school. “We will not be able to pay the fine,” said Yasmin.

Violence in Parivartan Chowk

The torture of the Siddiqui family offers a snapshot of the overall situation of the 57 defendants. The unusual orders to recover damage and name and pubic boards were an extension of Uttar Pradesh Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath’s call for “revenge” against those who had ransacked public and private property on December 19.

On that day, parts of the center of Lucknow were hit by violence when the call to protest the CAA took a nasty turn. Police forces, including Rapid Action Force personnel, attacked the demonstrators and fired several rounds of tear gas to push them back into the side streets, from where they periodically threw stones and bricks at the police. A driver died from a gunshot wound. While the protest was planned in central Parivartan Chowk, which had been barricaded by the police, the armed forces seemed to be stretched to fight the riots and to fight to curb the growing number of demonstrators elsewhere.

The charred remains of a motorcycle and the damaged railing of the park, in which the grave of Sadaat Ali Khan and his wife are in the Parivartan Chowk in Lucknow, were hit by the worst damage.

The charred remains of a motorcycle and the damaged railing of the park, in which the grave of Sadaat Ali Khan and his wife are in the Parivartan Chowk in Lucknow, were hit by the worst damage.

In the end, Parivartan Chowk was the worst hit, where several motorcycles, three OB vans, and a state bus were gutted, as criminals, many of whom threw handkerchiefs on faces, threw stones, and allegedly set fire to the vehicles. The Lucknow government estimated total damage at 1.56 crore, of which 1.02 crore was vehicle damage, most of which belonged to the police and other government agencies. Each liability was determined according to the principle of joint and several liability, which means that the accused is liable both individually and collectively for the entire amount of the fine. The reimbursement amounts were issued by the additional district judge concerned after checking the claims for damages of the affected parties.

The extent of the damage claimed

In fact, the list of damaged vehicles was given as follows: 25 bicycles, four cars, 3 OBV vans, a state bus and the window shields of three buses. The Madehganj Police Outpost was targeted and a police vehicle and bicycles parked in front of the Outpost were on fire. Another car nearby was also damaged.

The list created by the administration included items used and owned by the police, such as four pairs of fire boots (£ 24,000), four helmets (£ 10,000), body protection (10 units) worth £ 50,000, four plastic sticks (£ 4,000). , four fire extinguishers (£ 10,000), a dragon torch (£ 5,000) and a red blanket (£ 4,000). Around 145 meters of £ 3.30 sterling railings were also damaged.

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In Qaiserbagh, the police charged £ 1.75 damage: three police barriers (£ 24,000), 15 chairs (£ 6,000) and two police motorcycles. Most of the damage was done in the Thakurganj area. The Sathkhanda police outpost was set on fire and devastated, and vehicles outside of it were set on fire. The outpost building and three MCRs cost 24 lakhs out of a total of 67.73 lakhs in Thakurganj. Once again, most of the damage was suffered by the police: a chair worth £ 7,000, a table worth £ 5,000, a camera DVR and a camera monitor (51 inches) worth £ 4, a TV worth £ 3,000, a tube lamp worth £ 1,800, three CFL lamps worth £ 600, a water pump motor worth £ 6,000, a cooler worth £ 5,000, a plastic chair worth £ 4,800 and a bank worth from £ 15,000. The police also claimed a toilet door (£ 5,000), two water cooler glasses (£ 600) and three glasses of Bisleri water (£ 600). Aside from the three OB vans, the media were also damaged: a photographer’s £ 1.45 camera lens, his Royal Enfield bike, a photographer’s lens and someone else’s bike were also gutted. Parivartan Chowk’s railing, plastering, stone, and welding were £ 10.

Lack of evidence

Since an overwhelming number of the accused (52 out of 57) are Muslims, the community has a strong feeling that the U.P. The government’s actions are disproportionate and discriminatory and there are excesses of revenge. Two Ambedkarite Dalit activists are also on the list, including a retired IPS officer. Many of those arrested reported that they were faced with municipal insults while in detention.

The protests before the December 19 incident were largely without guides or banners. But after the violence, the police tried to project certain outfits, most of which were related to leftists and Muslims, as alleged brains behind the protests. In Lucknow, the police identified the Popular Front of India, an Islamic company, as a “pioneer” of arson and vandalism, and also made Rihai Manch, a rights group led by Mohammad Shoaib, a senior lawyer who helps fight terrorist attacks, guilty of litigation and is known to help a dozen of them be acquitted.

The police are trying to put a car that was destroyed in the violence back on the wheels near the Madehganj police outpost in the Khadra area of ​​Lucknow.

The police are trying to put a car that was destroyed in the violence back on the wheels near the Madehganj police outpost in the Khadra area of ​​Lucknow.

Shoaib, president of the Manch, was arrested despite being under house arrest during the violence. The unveiling of the hoardings has brought a sense of insecurity to those who are named and ashamed of who now fear attacks from right-wing mobs. Shoaib is used to such threats. In 2008, he was brutally attacked by a group of lawyers on the Lucknow Court grounds for dealing with terrorist cases.

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Over the years, Shoaib has facilitated the acquittal of more than a dozen men involved in terrorism. In many cases, these were dubious FIRs with suspicious dates and locations of arrests. He didn’t know he was going to be a victim of a similar situation. Shoaib had been placed under house arrest by the police since 5:30 p.m. on December 18 to prevent him from participating in the protest in Parivartan Chowk the following day. It was around midnight on November 19 when four police officers called him, apparently on call from a local county official. Shoaib went with him, leaving behind his glasses, cell phone, and medication, hoping to return home soon. After his wife Malka Bi called the district police chief, two police officers came and took the medicine for Shoaib, who was eventually arrested.

The police claimed in the Allahabad High Court that he was arrested at 8:45 a.m. on December 20 at the Clarks Avadh hotel intersection, a charge that has been refuted at first glance.

Police alleged that Shoaib had committed arson, rockfall and vandalism in Parivartan Chowk, and the restoration order imposed on him implies that he has provided no evidence to counter the police charges. Shoaib pointed out that the police have no evidence against him – no footage, no photo. “It is wrong to do a recovery until someone is found guilty,” he said.

Ironically, the police submission to the additional district judge reveals the lack of clear evidence against Shoaib. The demonstrator’s videos and photos could not be made available because the demonstrators destroyed three OB vans between them and the police, the police said. In addition, all of the photos clicked of their gathering were before the violence and not clear.

The government’s decision to affix the banners caught the attention of the Allahabad High Court, which, after a rare session on Sunday, instructed the Lucknow government to remove them immediately, and identified them as an “unjustified interference with human privacy” and a violation judged by Article 21 of the Constitution. The action reflected the government’s “use of power”, the bank judged. The bank instructed the Lucknow government to submit a compliance report by March 16. The Yogi Adityanath government, however, failed to do so and instead approached the Supreme Court, which did not approve the matter against the High Court order, but referred the matter to a larger bank.

Activists, clergymen, workers

A look at the profiles of the 57 people named and ashamed shows that they are not as privileged as the government argued in court when they spoke out against the Suo Motu notice. Aside from a handful of social activists and clergymen, most of those affected are the ones who struggle to make ends meet. Many are day laborers and workers with little political or social influence.

Ashma Izzat, a lawyer who has brought litigation against 25 of the defendants, including two minors, said almost everyone was unable to pay the fine. Some are unemployed or live in huts. Waseem Sayyad, a waiter, lives on the premises of the Imambada because he cannot afford to rent.

Izzat also argued that the administration had failed to issue the orders properly. “They did not deliver the orders to the defendant, but put up large billboards. We requested certified copies of the order so that we could contest them and get a stay. So far we have only copies of three people,” she said.

One of them, Kaleem, is a rickshaw driver. The other is a Bengali waiter who works in a Mughlai restaurant. Izzat said her customers are afraid to come out or open up. “I cannot disclose their location. They are afraid. They feel that they could be arrested again,” she said.

The fear and uncertainty can also be felt among the others. Robin Verma, who teaches at Shia PG College Management, was picked up by the police along with this reporter from a restaurant outside of BJP headquarters on December 20 and added to the list of suspects. Robin, a member of the OBC Kurmi caste and the son of a retired provincial police officer, said he has stopped using public transportation for security reasons since the hoardings surfaced, many of them on their way to work. The police had initially notified 95 people in Lucknow. However, 38 were released from the property damage charge because the police were unable to provide satisfactory evidence.

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Among those involved was Mohammad Anas, a B. Com student who claimed he went to coaching when the police stopped him and challenged him without evidence. Mohammad Tariq, a student, claimed he had gone to get medicine for his father when he was allegedly caught by the police at 11:30 a.m. before the protest even started.

The additional district judge, however, relies on the police’s allegation that they were arrested on site and had provided no evidence of their innocence. A similar pattern of fault determination follows in several other cases. The case of Kalbe Sibtain Noori, son of the prominent Shiite cleric Kalbe Sadiq and Maulana Saif Abbas, is strange. Noori had said that on the day of the protest he visited the Imambada area to restore calm. But his own admission went against him and he received a recovery order because he was there as a “conspirator”. Abbas had claimed that he had conducted a peace march in Muslim areas to calm the situation and asked for calm on social media. This was also not the case in the Additional District Judge’s Court.

While there has been much outrage over the announcements of more than £ 1.56 million to 57 people, the judges in the recovery orders believe that the police have made “inadequate efforts” that have resulted in the liability of several culprits not being established . While 10,000 took part in the protest, only 57 damage reports were issued, they asked.

Among the well-known people seen on the billboards was S.R. Darapuri, a 76-year-old retired Dalit IPS officer and now a social activist who identifies himself as an ambedkarit. His arrest caused a sensation in civil society when he was under house arrest on the day of the protest. The police claimed that when he called on social media to gather against the CAA and participate in a Dharna, which was strangely described as a police meeting on December 16 in the Ambedkar statue, as a “catalyst” and pioneer served for violent protest.

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Darapuri replied to the message, noting that he was not advocating violence or calling for it. While the additional district judge ruled that Darapuri provided no evidence to reject police allegations, Darapuri said the police had no evidence against him. Darapuri is unhappy that the additional district judge did not take his statement into account or did not hear his request, and that the order was issued solely on the basis of the police report.

In addition, he and others like him have still not been served the recovery order, he said. “In the written petition that we filed with the High Court, we submitted that we learned of the illegal recovery order through these hoardings,” he said.

Authority to issue notices

While there are many questions in individual cases and there is a dispute over the culpable determination of the accused’s fault, a bigger question was the legality of the competent authority to issue compensation claims for the losses suffered during the public demonstration.

In February, the High Court ordered a postponement of a confiscation notice that the administration had sent to Kanpur-based Mohammad Faizan to provide “temporary protection,” and said the matter was related to the reporting of suspected notices Vandal had already been tried in the Supreme Court by a written petition from Parwaiz Arif Titu against the state decision on the competent authority. In a separate case, the High Court granted four others in Bijnor the same relief, relying on the same argument.

The additional district judge Trans-Gomti Vishwa Bhushan Mishra, who wrote the announcements and orders in Lucknow, was confident that they had a legal basis, and said that “there is not a single postponement against my announcement or any other announcement that is under my format Mishra, who has a law degree, said: “If there had been a question of legality, it could have been brought up in the High Court and my order could have been overturned.” He also said he was liberal with the orders and acquitted most of those who responded to the messages. He said the Kanpur order was only canceled for techno-legal reasons.

On March 18, the Allahabad High Court asked the U.P. Government to file a response in the recovery of compensation orders brought by it after PILs challenged it. Darapuri and others are waiting for the High Court to reopen so that their written petition against the recovery order can be heard. Once the Supreme Court reopens, all eyes will be on how it picks up, first on the banners that are still in Lucknow, and then the larger question of whether people who have not yet been convicted of a crime have one The court receives punitive damages, but is exposed to public shame, insecurity and insecurity.