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UP violence: Modus operandi is to make victims the accused, seize property

By Sandeep Pandey*, Anandi Pandey** 
At New Delhi's Jamia Millia University if one visits the library it may appear as if a pitched battle was fought here. Almost all glasses have been broken by tear gas shells or stun grenades and furniture has been vandalised. And this was in response to some peaceful protests outside the library.
Although protests against Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens have been staged by students in various institutions, including IITs and IIMs, the police cracked down on institutions with Muslim majority students like Jamila Millia University, Aligarh Muslim University, Nadwa College and Integral University, the last two in Lucknow. Students have been brutally beaten.
Minazuddin lost one eye, both hands of Mustafa are fractured and Shayan has both legs fractured. 26 people have been arrested from AMU campus out of a total of 52 in Aligarh so far. But there are more than 1000 unnamed people in two FIRs each.
Four students of Nadwa College are in jail with their bail denied by the lower court. Ahmad Raza Khan, a student of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti Urdu, Arabi, Farsi University in Lucknow has been rusticated by the Vice Chancellor for having sent a message to his fellow students for participating in a protest against CAA-NRC.
All the 17 deaths that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh due to bullet injuries during the recent violence are Muslim youth in 20s and 30s and mostly from poor families. Strangely, the police has not taken responsibility for any except one in Bijnor, when there is no question of groups of people having clashed with each other. It was a protest against the government. People were on one side and police on the other.
In Lucknow FIR no. 600 registered at Hazratganj Police Station on 20 December names 39 people as accused of whom 36 are Muslims. Among the arrested are Advocate Mohammad Shoaib who was under house arrest all along December 19, when most violence took place in Lucknow, and he is being accused of provoking violence. A battery rickshaw operator Mohammad Wakeel was killed by a bullet injury. People with bullet injuries are not coming out in open for fear of retributive action by police.
In Muzaffarnagar there was protest against CAA-NRC organised on December 20 and when people were returning to their homes around 3-4 pm a mob comprising of police and members of Hindutva brigade went on rampage and vandalised Muslim houses like those of Hamid Hasan, Intezar, Farooq in Sarwat and Naseem Ahmed, Ishtkhar in Khalapar and attacked Madarsa hostels.
Some minors are still in jail. FIR nos. 684 registered at PS Civil Lines and 1,161 registered at PS Kotwali Nagar on December 21 against 107 and 151, respectively, contain named Muslims and unnamed 2,500-3,000 people in both. Twenty-one years old clothes vendor Noor Mohammad was killed by a bullet shot at his forehead most likely by police.
Abdul Kareem Mosque in Darjiyon Wali Gali was also vandalised. 13.5 years old Mohammad Ahmed, student of class IX at Himalayan Public School, and his elder sister Rukayya, who was about to get married, received injuries in leg and head, respectively, inflicted by police lathis. Their house was attacked by about hundred policemen. So far no FIR has been registered by any of the victims or their family members. Victims and social activists are in a state of shock.
In Meerut there was no protest organised but people returning after Namaz in the afternoon on 20 December were attacked by police unprovoked first with lathis and then by opening firearms when there were stones thrown by people in response and 17 people received bullet injuries.
Officially five, and additionally one more, deaths have taken place. Among the dead were Aleem, 24 years old, a roti maker at a dhaba, Mohammad Asif, 20 years old, who used to ply battery rickshaw and Mohammad Mohsin, 30 years old, a scrap dealer, again most likely shot by police, all belonging to lower economic strata of society.
Aleem was shot at in temple and Asif and Mohsin in their chests. Again no FIRs have been registered by family members of the deceased as the people are afraid that the administration may attach their property as it considers all the dead as rioters. For example, Md. Asif had a Delhi identity card as his entire family had moved to Delhi for livelihood and returned three years back. He is being accused by police of having brought 20-25 rioters from Delhi to incite violence in Meerut.
Atmosphere is reminiscent of freedom movement: Rulers are trying to divide people on communal lines, the common Muslims and Hindus are together on street
The pattern is clear. It is the Muslims who have been attacked during vandalism, arson, looting or police firing and it is they against whom FIRs are also being registered. The modus operandi is to make victims the accused. The state government in UP has also declared that it'll recover the cost of damage to public property from rioters.
So, the victims who have FIRs against them also face the danger of their property being seized by the local administration. The police and administration went into overdrive after a late night meeting of senior officials with the Chief Minister on December 19 night.
Since the Bhartiya Janata Party has come to power at the centre a clear policy targetting the Muslims can be delineated. Act to ban illegal triple talaq has criminalised a civil matter without talking about abandonment of women by men practising other faiths. 
Abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A related to Jammu and Kashmir, while at the same time continuing dialogue with National Socialist Council of Nagaland for partial autonomy to Nagaland, was an example of humiliating a Muslim majority state.
The judgement in favour of Ram temple by the Supreme Court even though all evidences pointed to the contrary was a stamp of approval on majoritarian politics even by the judiciary. However, the CAA and NRC, even though clearly targetting the Muslims again, have touched some sensitive nerve of society where people across faith, gender, caste, class and region have come together to oppose the sinister move of the government. 
In an atmosphere reminiscent of freedom movement, while the rulers are trying their best to divide people on communal lines, the common Muslims and Hindus are together on street in this struggle against a repressive government.
People everywhere, south and north, are protesting against CAA. Some people are also making a conjecture that it is 2002 of UP. It remains to be seen whether the ongoing national movement will liberate the country from repressive forces or the country will recede further into a communalized and polarized society.
---
*Social-political activist; **second year BA student at Ashoka University. Contacts: ashaashram@yahoo.com, anandipandey99@gmail.com

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