The Lucknow Police detained senior lawyer and president of human rights group Rihai Manch, Mohammad Shoaib, on Thursday night, a day after he was put under house arrest. The police also detained former Indian Police Service officer, SR Darapuri, on Friday afternoon. While Darapuri’s family was told he had been taken to the Hazratganj police station, it is still not clear where Shoaib is being held.
On Friday evening, activists Meera Sanghamitra, Madhavi Kuckreja and Arundhati Dhuru were detained at Hazratganj police station when they went to enquire about Shoaib’s whereabouts.
The 76-year-old advocate had been put under house arrest on Wednesday, ahead of a scheduled demonstration against the amendments to the Citizenship Act in Lucknow’s Parivartan Chowk.
Rihai Manch General Secretary Rajeev Yadav told Scroll.in that police officials went to Shoaib’s house at around 11.45 pm on Thursday. “They said that the Nazirabad circle officer wanted to meet him,” he said. His wife called the Lucknow superintendent police at around 1 am to inform him of the advocate’s ill health, he added.
Around 2 am, police officials reached his house to collect the medicines and said Shoaib would be released in a few hours. Officials also told the lawyer’s wife that he was detained at Hazratganj police station. “Police has not communicated with us after that,” Yadav said.
Yadav said that according to Darapuri, the police had detained Shoaib for allegedly instigating protestors “over a call” in Lucknow to start a fire. Darapuri was scheduled to address the press about Shoaib’s detention at 3pm, Thursday, but he was himself detained by the police before he could do that.
At the demonstration in Parivartan Chowk, Yadav said the police also arrested 34 protestors including activist Sadaf Jaffer and filed a First Information Report against them. The FIR, accessed by Scroll.in, booked the protestors under Indian Penal Code sections 147 (holds a person guilty of rioting), 148 (where a person is guilty of rioting with a deadly weapon), 152 (assaulting a public servant), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (violently causing harm), 506 (criminal intimidation), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with the intention to destroy a house) and 120B (being party to a criminal conspiracy) among others.
The police have not named Shoaib in any FIR and said it was not yet clear where he was currently being held.
Scroll.in called the police superintendent of Lucknow. He picked up the phone but the call got disconnected. He has not taken our calls since.
Besides Shoaib and Darapuri, Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey was also under house arrest on Thursday.
The Uttar Pradesh police had on Wednesday issued notices to more than 3,000 people across the state, cautioning them to not participate in protests against the Citizenship Act. “I am asked not to move out and three policemen are at my gate,” Shoaib, who was also issued a notice, had told the Hindustan Times. “The police issued two notices to me. One was under 149 of CrPc to not participate in any kind of protest and the second under 116/107 of Crpc for executing a bond for keeping peace.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act seeks to provide citizenship to people from six persecuted minority communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan – but excludes Muslims from its scope. The law, passed by Parliament on December 11, has been decried as anti-Muslim. Protestors in the northeastern states have alleged that it will erode their distinct ethnic identities.
Guwahati in Assam was the initial epicentre of the protests but they have since spread out to the rest of the country. Thousands of protestors were detained across the country throughout Thursday as rallies were held in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and many other cities.