“We were arrested in middle of pandemic for protesting against CAA,” two Gujarat men allege ‘police brutality’, demand justice

Protestors participate in a demonstration against Citizenship (Amendment) Act in New Delhi. PTI

Two men from Gujarat, who were arrested in the middle of the pandemic in 2020, for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act that had taken place months earlier in December 2019, have alleged ‘police brutality in custody’. The men demand justice and action against erring policemen.

Suprakash Majumdar, TwoCircles.net

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New Delhi: Months after anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests took place in Palanpur city in Gujarat in December 2019, police in Gujarat arrested two men during a time when the entire country was under Covid-19 lockdown.

Two men – Abdulhaque (45) and Salman (28) were arrested by Gujarat police for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), an act seen by its critics as “stripping away the citizenship of millions of Indians.”

Speaking to TwoCircles.net, the two men alleged that they were beaten in custody.

“The police knocked at my door in the middle of the night on June 1, 2020. They forcefully entered my house and arrested me,” Abdulhaque, from Palanpur told TwoCircles.net.

The police took Abdulhaque to Dhanka Highway before taking him to the police station, Abdulhaque claims, saying, “The police called me a Naxal accusing me of dividing the country.”

“I was threatened by the police to accept that I was part of a larger conspiracy to destabilize the government by organizing anti-CAA protests through foreign funding, or else I will face consequences,” he said.

Abdulhaque’s arrest is linked to an anti-CAA protest in Palanpur, a city in Gujarat on December 19, 2019. It was a time when protests against the CAA were taken out across the country.

At this December 19 protest, the permission for which was already granted by the administration, a large gathering was expected. However, just a night before, the permission for the protest was withdrawn. Even after the withdrawal, many people arrived at the site of the protest.

As per social activist Mohammed Charoliya, “the police came in large numbers while the protest was going on, and tried to scatter the protestors. In this situation, the crowd could not be controlled, and more than a hundred people were arrested.”

Abdulhaque says that he was taken to the police station in Palanpur and was kept there for a night. “I was produced before a magistrate the next morning, where the police asked for a 20-day remand, but the magistrate granted only a 6-day remand.”

While in remand, Abdulhaque claims to have been beaten, verbally abused and tortured by the police. “There used all kinds of verbal abuses against me. They started to talk about the conspiracy about breaking India and calling me a Naxal, and threatening me to accept this,” he said.

This is not an isolated incident.

Salman Patel, also from Palanpur, was arrested on September 29, 2020.

Salman claims that the police came to arrest him in the afternoon and took him to the police station. He was beaten as soon as he was brought to the police station, he alleges.

“I was beaten very badly. There were blue and black bruises on my hands and face. They beat me continuously,” Salman alleged.

The next day, he was produced in front of a magistrate. “When I was produced in front of the magistrate on video-conferencing, given the pandemic, the magistrate chastised the policemen for beating me up just by seeing the severity of the bruises on my face,” he said.

Salman, Abdulhaque and the other accused were later released on bail. While Abdulhaque was released on August 5, 2020, Salman was released November 4, 2020.

Both Salman and Abdulhaque are facing trauma and mental health issues.

They say that even at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic was raging in India, “the police was busy making such arrests.”

When Charoliya reached out to Abdulhaque and Salman, he says “they were reluctant to say anything to the media at that time as they were scared of the blowout.”

“They were so scared of coming out with their experiences. They were scared of police brutality against them and repercussions against their families,” Charoliya said.

Charoliya further said that they had demanded action against the erring policemen through social media but “no action was taken.”

“We urge the Gujarat administration to resolve the issue as soon as possible and give justice to the victims of this brutality,” he said.

These young people, who were arrested in the middle of the pandemic, rue the lack of justice even after the passing of many months.

TwoCircles.net contacted police officials for a comment but did not receive any answers. The story will be updated as and when the comments will be received.