The Hyderabad Police on Saturday night detained Mubashir Khurram, a journalist working with The Siasat Daily, for over 12 hours before releasing him on Sunday afternoon, The News Minute reported on Sunday. Khurram was covering a flash protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens in the city when he was arrested. The flash protest took place in Mallepally near Rayan Hotel.
Khurram told the news website that his photographer informed him about the protest. He said that the police picked him up along with the protestors despite the fact that he was merely covering the demonstration. Khurram said he has covered many protests against the Citizenship Act since Parliament passed it on December 11 last year. However, the police claimed that he was the “brainchild” behind Saturday’s flash protest.
“One unidentified task force officer asked why people were protesting against CAA and NRC though ‘you [Muslims] have fifty-plus countries to go to’?” Khurram said. “When I said that I went there to cover the event as a journalist, one official told me that I should inform the police before going to report.”
The journalist added that the police accused him of accompanying Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad around Hyderabad during the politician’s visit last month.
Khurram, along with others, was booked by the police under Sections 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Indian Penal Code. All the persons the Habeeb Nagar Police Station booked have to appear before it on February 14.
On Saturday, after asking the protestors to disperse, the police bundled them into vehicles and took them to the Goshamahal Ground. Some demonstrators who had not been detained chased the police vehicles.
“On receiving information that people had been detained from Mallepally, I visited the Goshamahal stadium adjacent to the Shahinayathgunj Police Station after midnight,” Mushtaq Malik, the convenor of the Joint Action Committee against CAA and NRC, told The News Minute. “The police said that people had been detained and kept there for protesting without permission. A police officer told me that Mubashir was also among those detained.”
The police also detained activist Khaleda Parveen among others. At least 18 women were shifted to the office of the Central Crime Station.
The Citizenship Amendment Act 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 for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 29 people have died during the protests with 19 in Uttar Pradesh, six in Assam, two in Karnataka – all ruled by the BJP. Two people were killed in West Bengal last month.