An Aligarh Muslim University student was arrested from his home at Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday evening, reported The Quint. Sharjeel Usmani was actively involved in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in December, but it is not yet clear on what charges he was arrested.
Usmani was produced before a local court in Aligarh later in the day, and sent to 14-day judicial custody, The Indian Express reported. Usmani’s lawyer said he will move a bail application in court.
The Azamgarh Police has made no formal statement about the arrest. The public relations officer of Azamgarh senior superintendent of police told The Quint that they have no idea who arrested Usmani. “There is some buzz on Twitter but we have no clue,” added the PRO.
The district’s Additional Superintendent of Police (crime) Arvind Kumar, however, told Amar Ujala that the arrest was made by the anti-terrorism squad of the Lucknow Police and it was related to a case filed in Aligarh in December.
Usmani’s brother said five men in civilian clothes, claiming to be from the crime branch, came to their house on Wednesday evening. Usmani was already with them, with his hands tied and head down, said his brother Areeb. He was arrested when he was out drinking tea.
“They confiscated his laptop, all his books, and a solitary set of clothes,” Areeb told The Wire. “Each of us was made to stand and be photographed, stating our relation to him. Areeb said Usmani’s maternal aunt was also compelled to get photographed even though there no female officer present.”
“I refuse to believe it is an arrest,” said Usmani’s father. “They did not tell us what charges were being pressed, they did not allow us to have any conversation with him.” His mother Seema Usmani said: “As a parent, and more importantly, as citizens, we have the right to know.”
On December 15, the police had stormed into the varsity campus and allegedly caned those they apprehended during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Usmani was one of those who led the protests. The police had alleged that the students had pelted stones at them and injured 19 policemen.
In the first information report, the police named Usmani and several other AMU students and alumni. They were accused of offences under various sections, including 307 (attempt to murder) and 147 (rioting), of the Indian Penal Code as well as other relevant sections of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The police have also filed a chargesheet in the matter. The case will now go to trial.
On the night of December 15, a group of students at the Aligarh Muslim University had organised a rally in protest against police violence at Delhi’s Jamia Millia University earlier in the day, and the Citizenship Amendment Act. A fact-finding report found that law-enforcement officials had fired stun grenades “usually used in war-like situations or terror operations” at students, and raised “chilling slogans like Jai Shri Ram while attacking the students and setting ablaze their scooters and vehicles...”
The National Human Rights Commission investigation, submitted to the High Court in February, recommended that legal action must be taken against the delinquent policemen apart from compensating the injured students. On February 24, the Allahabad High Court ordered Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Hitesh Awasthy to identify and take action against the policemen who were involved in destroying motorbikes and attacking students at Aligarh Muslim University on December 15.
In January, the Aligarh Muslim University administration had said it would file a complaint against the police for entering the a hostel at the campus without permission.