Reconsider, withdraw ‘false’ cases on peaceful anti-CAA protesters: Letter to UP CM
Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey, in an open letter, has warned Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, “If you’ll send social activists, who have faith in the Constitution, to jail because your police in unable to identify the anarchist elements then the space for peaceful means of expressing dissent with the government in a democracy will be eliminated and anarchist elements will be easily able to mislead the common people.”
Offering the names of a large number of well-known social activists who are being “victimised” by the state police, Pandey, who is a well-known social activist and academic, and vice-president, Socialist Party (India), says, “It is the anarchist elements which are responsible for violence but action is being taken against people who, all along their lives, have adopted peaceful means of protests and have faith in the Constitution of the country.”
I had sought your appointment on December 21, 2019. However, as I didn’t get a response I thought of writing my thoughts to you through this open letter. I want to make some comments on the approach of government-administration on protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) held in Lucknow and Uttar Pradesh.
A pertinent question which needs to be asked is when lakhs of people assembled at other places in the country without any untoward incident why did violence break out in UP? The vengeance with which UP government-administration is acting in response to the violence by anarchist elements which took place during protests is condemnable as more maturity and restraint is expected of any government-administration.
It is the anarchist elements which are responsible for violence but action is being taken against people who, all along their lives, have adopted peaceful means of protests and have faith in the Constitution of the country. My friends Advocate Mohammad Shoaib and retired Indian Police Services officer SR Darapuri have been arrested, who like me were under house arrest in Lucknow on December 19, 2019, the day on which maximum violence took place.
Mohammad Shoaib was secretary of city unit of Socialist Party when he was a student of LLB at Lucknow University in 1972 and at present is the state president of Socialist Party (India).
He has been successful in getting 14 innocent youth, who were falsely implicated in terrorism related cases, acquitted from the Court after contesting their cases. He was attacked inside Court by advocates who didn’t want him to take up cases of the abovementioned youth but has not used violence against anybody in his life.
SR Darapuri is a human rights and Ambedkarite activist and has contested Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections from UP. In 2008, he and I were part of a fact finding team which had produced a report declaring Shahbaz from Lucknow innocent when he was picked up by Rajasthan police in the Jaipur bomb blast case, in which Shahbaz was recently acquitted by the Court too.
Robin Verma, a University teacher and a volunteer of Rihai Manch, of which Mohammad Shoaib is the President, has been beaten up badly by police before being sent to jail. Congress Party spokesperson Sadaf Jafar was till the last moment before her arrest trying to pacify the youth who were indulging in violence of which there is proof. Similarly, Deepak Mishra is a creative cultural activist and Dr Pawan Rao Ambedkar is a lecturer at Rae Bareli.
In Varanasi among the activists and students who have been arrested I personally know Anoop Shramik, Dhananjay Tripathi, Diwakar Singh, Ram Janam, Shivraj Yadav, Ekta, Ravi Kumar, Sanya Khan, Sriprakash Rai, Prashant Rai, Satish Singh, Raj Abhishek, Deepak Rajguru, Manish Kumar, Sanjeev Singh, Arpit Giri, Narendra Mani Tripathi, Gaurav Mani Tripathi, Shahid Jamal and Chedilal Nirala about whom I can say with confidence that they can only be involved in peaceful protests.
I’ve myself demonstrated peacefully against CAA-
NRC outside Banaras Hindu University main gate on December 14 and outside my house under detention on 19 December.
If you’ll send social activists, who have faith in the Constitution, to jail because your police in unable to identify the anarchist elements then the space for peaceful means of expressing dissent with the government in a democracy will be eliminated and anarchist elements will be easily able to mislead the common people.
One of those arrested is Mohd Shoaib, who got 14 innocent youth, falsely implicated in terrorism related cases, acquitted
Social activists have a useful role of providing creative options to people of expressing their opposition to the government on any issue. It is certain that if social activists will be able to influence the protests they will remain peaceful and in their absence there is danger of these protests turning anarchist.
I’ll leave it to your wisdom. If you think it proper please reconsider your decision and withdraw the cases against abovementioned activists and release all innocent people.
I’ve an additional comment. After the nationwide protests against CAA-NRC now the Bhartiya Janata Party leaders are asking the Muslim citizens of country not to worry. But in the FIRs registered in response to violence during protests most of the names of accused are Muslims.
For example, in FIR No 600/2019 registered at Police Station, Hazratganj, Lucknow out of 39 accused, 36 names are those of Muslims whereas non-Muslims participated in the protests in large numbers and out of 16 youth killed in UP due to bullet injuries all are Muslims. If there will be a bias against Muslims in taking action then how can they be expected to have confidence in the government-administration?
I hope you’ll deliberate over my letter.