Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Sunday lashed out at the Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government for arresting social activist Sadaf Jafar on several charges, including rioting, attempted murder and assault on public servants, during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Lucknow on December 20.
Jafar, who is also a Congress worker, was the only woman among more than 200 people arrested in the city that day. Last week, a local court rejected her bail application, saying she was facing serious charges.
Jafar had livestreamed the protest and the police crackdown in a Facebook post, and ended up recording her own arrest. In the footage, she appeared to be observing the aftermath of the protest, weaving her way through crowds of police officers. She was suddenly hauled away, and did not receive any response when she asked the police the reason for her arrest.
“The UP government has crossed all limits of inhumanity,” Priyanka Gandhi tweeted. “Congress activist Sadaf Jafar is clearly seen in the video asking the police to arrest those spreading the violence. The police have put Sadaf in jail by making baseless allegations.”
Sharing a photograph of her meeting with Jafar’s family on Saturday, Gandhi added: “Both of Sadaf’s children are eagerly awaiting the release of their mother. This insensitive government has separated children from their mother and old men from their children.”
Jafar’s sister, Nahid Verma, has said her sister was unarmed and never raised any slogans against the government. “In the video clips, Sadaf can be heard telling cops to nab those pelting stones while she was being abused by the male cops and later a women cop caught her hand and took her into custody,” Verma added. “Everything was caught on camera.”
On Saturday, Gandhi also met the family of former Indian Police Service officer SR Darapuri, who was arrested in the city on December 19 for protesting against the citizenship law. Gandhi visited Darapuri’s home despite repeated attempts by the police to stop her. Later, she alleged that a few policewomen had manhandled her.
At least 19 people have died in Uttar Pradesh in the last two weeks as the police attempted to quell the protests. The police have been accused of using excessive force, including torturing five minors and other detainees in Bijnor. The nationwide toll is 26.
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.
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