Several women from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh have alleged that they were baton-charged by male police officers, who also vandalised their homes and smashed their cars, The Print reported on Saturday.
Razia Khatoon, 65, said she was inside her Daulatganj home on December 19, when two men, who were part of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, barged in. The men ran up to the terrace when the police followed them into the house. However, instead of searching for the protestors, the police beat her up, Khatoon alleged.
“They hit me on my knee, in my stomach,” Khatoon said. “They abused me relentlessly. I kept asking them why they are doing this – but the more I asked, the more they abused me…the more they hit me.” Khatoon also said that the police eventually arrested the two men, but not before ransacking her home.
“We kept telling them we have nothing to do with the two men, and that they can go and arrest them,” Khatoon’s daughter-in-law Iktara said. “But they just kept breaking things mindlessly.”
Over 1,100 people have been arrested in the state, and 5,558 kept under preventive detention. At least 18 people have been killed in clashes between the police and the protestors, with 15 dying of firearm injuries. Nationwide, the toll is at least 25.
Najma Begum, another 65-year-old woman, alleged that multiple policemen destroyed her car on one of the days of the protests in Daulatganj. “They destroyed my car in front of my eyes but I couldn’t do anything,” she said, in tears. “They didn’t even want to arrest anyone from my home – they didn’t even enter my home. I don’t understand what the point was of doing this.”
When asked for a response, West Lucknow Additional Superintendent of Police Vikas Chandra Tripathi claimed that the police’s actions were retaliation for stone-pelting. Tripathi said that at least 250 people have been arrested in Lucknow since the protests broke out. Asked about the alleged arrest of minors, Tripathi said the matter is under investigation.
Several shop owners in the Daulatganj area said they have started to pull the shutters down at 6 pm since violence broke out in Lucknow. Earlier, the shops used to be open till 11 pm. “These are mostly shops that sell items for women,” Mohammad Danish, who sells home decor items, said. “Now if no woman is venturing out, there is no point in keeping these shops open past 6 pm.”
Meanwhile, a video clip of a man trying to protect his three-year-old daughter from the police in Mangaluru has gone viral on social media, The Wire reported on Friday. In the video, the man is seen jostling with the police, who were trying to pull him and his daughter into a parked bus. The child was heard screaming. Her elder sister and mother could also be seen in the video clip, pleading with the police to let them all go.
The police have booked the man, identified as KM Ibrahim, for alleged rioting and destruction of public property. Ibrahim has been named as an accused in one of the eight FIRs registered after the violence.
However, Ibrahim, a scrap dealer, told The Wire a different story. Ibrahim said he was at his workshop on Bunder road when he got a call from his wife. Ibrahim’s wife had gone to pick up their elder daughter from school. The autorickshaw driver, who was ferrying the mother and daughter, refused to ply further when he saw the police chasing a mob near the Clock Tower area. “My wife called me and told me to come and pick her up immediately,” Ibrahim said. “I knew things were tense in the city, so I rushed to the spot.”
Dodging security personnel stationed along the way, Ibrahim managed to reach a spot from where he could see his wife and child. “I was on the other side of the road and when I began to move closer to my family, some policemen, all dressed in riot- gear, came close to me and began to drag me towards a parked bus,” he alleged. Ibrahim said he tried to explain why he was there, but the police did not let him go.
This led to the sequence of events shown in the video. Ibrahim said he still fears that the police may come to his home to arrest him at any time. “They did not spare anyone,” he said. “Even those standing by the side and watching the police’s atrocity in utter shock were mercilessly beaten up.”
Two people, both Muslims, were killed in police firing in Mangaluru on December 19. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led BS Yediyurappa government initially announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of the victims, but later withdrew it.
Yediyurappa said that it was clear that the incident in Mangaluru was “a conspiracy” as people attempted to barge into the police station’s armoury, adding that his government will “not spare anybody”.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised as being discriminatory for excluding Muslims.