Even as Uttar Pradesh CM issues veiled threats, two public gatherings in Mumbai witnessed lawyers and activists shine a light on what is happening in the northern state
Arundhati Dhuru, Faisal Khan, Rajeev Yadav, Richa Singh, SC Rai and Arvind Murti in Bandra. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Civil and social activists narrated accounts of violence and police brutality in Uttar Pradesh, following the widespread anti-CAA protests in the state since December. The accounts were recalled at two gatherings held by the Maharashtra Unit of the PUCL and NAPM to reveal the situation in UP for more than a month since Section 144 was imposed.
More than 60 people were arrested in the wake of the widespread anti-CAA protests in the state since December. At least 23 people have lost their lives in the course of these protests.
Activists at the meeting in Mumbai Central
'People must be aware'
"This exercise was done to spread awareness among the public about UP's current environment," said activist Arundhati Dhuru, member of NAPM, while speaking to mid-day at St Peter's Church Hall in Bandra. Earlier in the day, Dhuru, along with Medha Patkar, Rajeev Yadav, Anjali Bharadwaj, Prafulla Samantara and other activists, addressed the media at Mumbai Central.
"The primary focus of the meeting was the ongoing national movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and "potential disenfranchisement due" to NRC-NPR. Some of these activists have also faced repression by the state — especially UP Police.
People at the meeting held in St Peter's Church Hall in Bandra. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The public meeting at Bandra, held in the large church hall, heard accounts of how the "police and government administration acted with undisguised prejudice, targeting members of the Muslim community." When asked which parts of Uttar Pradesh were the worst hit by violence and brutality, Dhuru explained that it is "everywhere," but Western UP is "specifically being targeted since it is a BJP stronghold."
"Banaras saw multiple arrests but no physical violence...this is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, therefore it had to be ensured that no physical violence occurred here," she said. "One example of out and out police brutality is what went down at AMU...it was organised. Many of us (activists), including my husband, have also been harassed and beaten up," she added.
"There has been a complete clampdown of constitutional freedoms since Section 144 has been imposed," said advocate Lara Jesani. "At least here in Mumbai, we can talk about these issues...over there, in UP, there is a blackout of information, because of which, the violence that is going on in the state cannot even be reported."
A statement put out by PUCL further said, "The Internet was shut down and prominent lawyers and activists and even mediapersons who dared to bear witness to the violence were picked up. Lawyers who went to police stations to enquire about those detained were themselves put behind bars."
60 No. of people arrested during anti-CAA protests by Uttar Pradesh police since December