Interview with SR Darapuri
NEW DELHI: “If they could do this to a retired Inspector General of Police, I hate to think of what they are doing to the common man,” said retired IPS officer S.R.Darapuri who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police for alleged violence during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Undeterred by the treatment with the police keeping him without food for two days, Darapuri minces no words about the current state of affairs in UP while speaking to The Citizen.
“I am aghast at how communal the UP Police has become, when I was serving it was communal but did not allow those kind of sentiments to reach their lips. Now they openly use choice abuse against the Muslims and even now the non-Muslims who they see as traitors because they stand for secularism. They do not bother hiding their bias, as they know they are fully protected,” Darapuri said.
A cancer patient, the former IG who has served the Indian Police Service for 32 years said that he was not at all worried or scared. Even while speaking he was preparing to attend a meeting that he hoped would give a call to the Opposition parties in UP to come together against authoritarianism and the CAA and the National Register for Citizens, and the National Population Register.
The police after his arrest had claimed that they had apprehended him from a park. “This was an outright lie as they had taken me away from my home and that too in the morning, not the evening,” he said. He was under house arrest on December 19, and the next morning he was asked to come to the police station in Lucknow. He was kept there through the day and then told later at night that he was under arrest. He was not given any food, and towards midnight when he started feeling very cold he asked for a blanket, but was refused. Early morning he was able to make contact with his family through a munshi and his son, “scared that he might be detained as they had threatened to do that too,” came with a blanket, a topi and a bottle of water.
On December 21 at night Darapuri was taken to jail, with the day passing without any food again. He finally got some jail food on the morning of December 23, despite being ageing and ill. He said he was lodged initially with criminals, rapists and murderers. He was finally given bail in January along with Sadaf Jafar as the prosecution was unable to prove their involvement in the violence. In fact the court was informed by the prosecution that “so much smoke billowing from vehicles burnt in the violence that no photograph could be taken.” As Darapuri said they did not have a shred of evidence.
He said that the others were badly beaten by the police, including Sadaf Jafar. He said he saw marks of the beatings on their bodies. He insisted that the violence was “orchestrated and I saw many of those who were brought in initially being given tea and sent away. The protestors did not create the violence, others did and their real identities should be disclosed.” He said that men in masks were seen in the crowds and he was told by a foreign network correspondent that all through he had been told of “masked men reportedly instigating the violence.” This shows a conspiracy that needs to be probed, Darapuri said.
He further pointed out that the state government had thought initially that only the Muslims would participate in the protests and was prepared for that. “But they were surprised to find that non Muslims were present in large numbers, and all Indians and citizens were involved. They could not handle this,” Darapuri said.
He regretted the “deep communalisation” of the police force. But said he was “hopeful” that this would be addressed through a strong peoples movement. He said he was committed to working for this, and despite the arrest and harassment not at all dejected or scared.