Activists in UP police custody faced 'communal slurs'

Activists in Uttar Pradesh police custody faced 'communal, casteist slurs'

Various fact-finding reports by activists had accused the Yogi Adityanath-led government of perpetrating police atrocities on anti-CAA protesters. (PTI Photo)

'Why don't you go to Pakistan?' If this was the question actress-activist Sadaf Jafar, who acted in Mira Nair's new film 'A Suitable Boy', faced while being beaten up by Uttar Pradesh Police, a former Maths professor Pawan Rao Ambedkar faced casteist slurs while a woman Constable repeatedly hit his head with a helmet till it broke.

The duo along with former UP Inspector General SR Darapuri and artiste-activist Deepak Kabir here on Wednesday narrated their ordeal in custody after they were picked up separately in Lucknow last month following protests against Citizenship Amendment Act in Lucknow on December 19 last year.

Jafar, also a Congress spokesperson, said they were holding a peaceful protest but police took them into custody accusing them of indulging in violence.

"I could hear cries from the men section. Male protesters were beaten up. I was beaten up on my knees, legs and stomach. I was asked my name and then they started the communal slurs. Police personnel were saying that the government has given us everything. At one point, one of them even asked why don't you go to Pakistan. The communal slurs were followed by beating," Jafar said in the presence of senior political leaders.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, his CPI counterpart D Raja, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, LJD patron Sharad Yadav and RJD's Manoj Jha were present when they were narrating their ordeal in custody.

Claiming that she was not allowed to contact her family to inform them about her whereabouts, Jafar said policewomen scratched her face and pulled her hair. "One senior officer told them that charge me under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and let her rot in jail. He then asked a Constable to slap me and she slapped me twice," an emotional Jafar said.

If police action was not enough, Jafar claimed she faced trouble in the hospital where she was taken after her blood pressure shot up. When she complained that she has not recovered, a male doctor told her point-blank, "stop your drama...she is alright. She wants to be here because she does not to be in the cold environment of a police station."

Jafar said men who were arrested during protests were stripped in front of her for examination in the police station. "It was so dehumanising. This is the face of UP government, the face of UP Police," she said, as Yechury told her and others that they stand in solidarity with them.

Ambedkar, who resigned as an Assistant Professor to become a social activist, said he did not want to detail the torture he suffered but referred to a policewoman hitting him repeatedly with a helmet till it broke, which was corroborated by Jafar.

Ambedkar, a Dalit, said he was singled out and beaten up repeatedly in custody where casteist slur was heaped on him. “You have not done anything for Dalits in Bihar who still eat rats for sustaining themselves. What are you going to do with immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh? Will they get an education, will they get land?” he said.

Kabir said except for Section 302 (murder), almost all serious charges have been levelled against anti-CAA protesters.

Darapuri said he was not beaten up but if the police can do this to a person who was former IG, what would be the fate of others.

Various fact-finding reports by activists had accused the Yogi Adityanath-led government of perpetrating police atrocities on anti-CAA protesters. 

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