Several women from Hussainabad, in the heart of the old city of Lucknow, have alleged that the police raided their homes on the evening of December 19. While some said they were beaten up, almost all the accounts claim vandalism by the men in uniform.
Forty-year-old Rana Parveen said the police entered their home between 4.30 and 5 pm on December 20, when there were clashes going on nearby. “Most of the men of the house were at work,” she said. “The police entered our house – this is the first time this has happened – they hit us with sticks and broke everything, including the TV.”
The police, according to Parveen, were looking for the men of the household. “They kept saying ‘admiyo ko nikalo, admiyo ko nikalo’ [bring out the men, bring out the men],” she said. “My husband was at home. He is physically handicapped and paralysed. I showed them - look, he can’t move. There were mostly women in the house, they hit us. There were two aged men, they hit them too. Bahut badtameezi kiya [they behaved very badly].”
Parveen said she had heard the police had called on other houses in the locality as well. Videos circulated on social media suggest they did.
Karishma Hussain, another resident, took to Facebook to post a video purportedly from Hussainabad. It shows ransacked rooms, a car with broken windshields. Like Parveen, Hussain claims the police raided their home when only women were in.
Lucknow has seen a steady stream of protest since the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in Parliament on December 11, 2019. The law makes non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan eligible for Indian citizenship. It has widely been criticised as discriminatory and triggered popular protests.
Prohibitory orders were imposed under Section 144 on all of Uttar Pradesh, from where reports of a police crackdown have emerged. After a protester was killed in Lucknow on December 20,mobile internet and SMS services were blocked.
“I was alone at home with my sister,” says Karishma Hussain, as she walks through her house, showing the debris strewn around. “This was done by the police. We were not doing anything. Our door was shut. They barged into the house and first broke the camera. Then they broke everything inside the house. They ran towards my sister and I to beat us up. But we went upstairs and hid ourselves. Because everyone knows that the police here is not safe for girls.”
As the camera sweeps through ravaged rooms, the voice continues, “They have broken everything: the kitchen, washing machine, camera, everything. Just look at the condition of the kitchen.”
The camera then pans to what seems to be a prayer room. “And this is our imambada,” says the woman’s voice. “They did not even have the courtesy to spare the imambada. But then how can we forget what sort of government we have. They do not care for any imambada, or any religion.”
There are images of a car with broken windshields and bikes overturned. “This is our shop,” the woman continues as the screen shows broken machines. “The computer here which was connected to all cameras too has been broken.”
When the police came, the girls had hid themselves, fearing violence. “Our house was targeted because it is the first house as you enter Hussainabad,” the voice in the video explains. “Why did we run? Because we knew the government here can do anything. Even girls are unsafe. We hid ourselves upstairs. We closed the door, otherwise we too would not have been safe.”
Like Parveen, the woman suggests the police were really looking for the male members of the household. “Yaar if the boys were protesting outside then catch them, why come after us?” she asks. “The door of our house was closed. They kicked it and broke it down. They fired three times, now I don’t know whether they fired bullets or tear gas.”
Another one-minute video circulated on social media and purportedly from Hussainabad shows women and children crouching inside a room. As the police enter, there is screaming. A child cries as the screen goes dark.
Scroll.in could not independently verify the video.
No police response
When Scroll.in called Kalanidhi Naithani, senior superintendent of police in Lucknow, to verify the incident, he disconnected the call. He also refused to answer further calls. Scroll.in also contacted the Lucknow police’s media spokesperson, who said he would only answer questions from reporters in Uttar Pradesh.
This report will be updated if and when the police respond.