law enforcement

Study in contrast: How Uttar Pradesh police dealt with two sets of Kasganj violence cases

They have apparently focused more on clashes that took place on Republic Day than the subsequent mob attacks that mainly targeted the Muslim community.

One person was killed and several injured when groups of Hindu and Muslim men clashed in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj town in the last week of January. The violence began when a group of men waving saffron flags and the Indian tricolour set out on an unauthorised motorbike rally and disrupted a Republic Day function in a Muslim-dominated locality. Guns were fired by both sides, according to the police, and a young man named Chandan Gupta was killed. As the violence continued for days, with mostly Hindu mobs rampaging through the town, attacking Muslims and setting fire to their shops and vehicles at many places, all eyes turned to how the police under Chief Minister Adityanath would react.

So, how have the police done?

A look at the 18 cases registered so far – and the 55 people arrested – offers a picture: the police seem to have focused more on clashes that took place in the first 24 hours than the mob attacks over subsequent days.

After the clashes of January 26, hundreds of police personnel were deployed in Kasganj. Yet, violence continued for at least three more days. The police then conducted a series of raids to find the suspects. The town is home to around 1.20 lakh people, around 20% of them Muslim.

Police records accessed by Scroll.in show that arrests have so far been made in 11 of the 18 cases – three related to the Republic Day clashes and the rest to violence over subsequent days involving relatively minor offences. The police are yet to solve, or even identify suspects, in the other seven cases, all related to the violence targeting Muslims. They include two cases of attempt to murder, four of arson involving shops owned by Muslims and one of vandalising a minaret in an Idgah, a ground where Muslims conduct public prayers, especially on Eid.

Case study

The first of the three cases from January 26-27 pertains to Gupta’s killing, registered on the basis of a complaint by his father Sushil Gupta naming as many as 18 suspects. In total, 19 people, all Muslim, have been arrested and booked for murder, attempt to murder and sedition.

The second is a case of attempt to murder and arson with intention to destroy a place of dwelling, work or worship, registered on their own by the police. Though the First Information Report names only four suspects, the police have arrested as many as 16 people, again all Muslim.

The third case, of arson and other charges, was also registered by the police on their own. It pertains to the burning of a shop soon after Gupta’s cremation on January 27. As many as 12 people, all Hindu, have been arrested, the police records show.

Both attempt to murder and arson with intention to destroy a place of dwelling, work or worship are non-bailable offences under the Indian Penal Code, punishable with a period that can extend up to 10 years or life imprisonment.

Seven of the remaining eight people arrested have been booked under the Arms Act. They were identified from video clips shot by local residents. The eighth person has been booked for penal charges related to “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”.

The seven unsolved cases, on the other hand, involve serious offences, including attempt to murder and arson. They were registered on the basis of complaints from Muslim residents.

Most of the 18 cases also include offences such as rioting and unlawful assembly. While 15 are registered in various police stations of Kasganj town, the records show, three are registered in the neighbouring tehsils of Amanpur and Ganjdundwara.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.