Skip to main content

No detention camps in Assam? Gandhian activists barred from 'verifying' Modi claim

By Faisal Khan*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared from the Ram Lila ground before the Delhi elections that there are no detention centres in the country in the context of nation wide anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests. But there were media reports of temporary detention centres being run in various jails of Assam and a permanent one being constructed in Gwalpara district.
To verify the claim of the Prime Minister a yatra was organised from Rajghat, Delhi to Matia in Gwalpara in the last week of February. At the end of the yatra a human chain was to be formed outside the under construction centre to sympathise with people who're in detention centres.
The Delhi-Assam yatra was organised by Khudai Khidmatgar, National Alliance of People's Movements, Justice Forum, Assam and Socialist Party (India) with 18 yatris**, from eight different states of India. The yatra started from Rajghat, Delhi on 23 February but was stopped by Uttar Pradesh police as soon as it entered the Aligarh district border.
The UP administration would not allow it to go through Aligarh or Mathura. Finally, on the condition that yatra would not hold any meetings on the way to Bihar, it was allowed to proceed to Kanpur and by next night it had already crossed the Bihar border from Chandauli into Rohtas.
In Kanpur the local host Mahesh, who runs a home for underprivileged children, was pressurised by the police to not let the yatra stay overnight and yatris were kept under strict police vigil in almost detention like condition. The driver of the bus was taken away for the night to police station.
The yatra was not allowed to take a stop at a Lok Samiti centre run by Nandlal in Nagepur, a village adopted by Narendra Modi in his parliamentary constituency. The yatra which was scheduled to traverse through UP over 4 days was fast tracked to cross the distance in 2 days. Police jeeps escorted it to ensure there was no contact with people or media in UP.
The yatra went through smoothly in Bihar visiting protest sites at Patna, Lakhminiya, Jalkaura, last two in Begusarai district and two meetings in Narayanpur and Kharik in Bhagalpur district. The host in Patna was Nashur Ajmal and in Bhagalpur Gautam Kumar Pritam.
In West Begal the police stopped the yatra at Samuktala in Alipurdwar district but upon arguing with the police that the West Bengal assembly has passed a resolution against CAA-NRC, they allowed it to proceed to Assam border.
Assam administration and government had made up its mind to not let yatra enter Assam. Yatris had no option but to court arrest
At the Srirampur border there was heavy police present along with para-military fully armed to take care of any eventuality. There was full media presence from both sides Alipurdwar and Kokrajhar of the West Bengal-Assam border. SDM, Gosaingaon of Kokrajhar and the district SP informed the yatra that section 144 of CrPC was in place in all three Assam districts, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Gwalpara which fell on its way and that it would have to go back.
Interestingly, contradicting the PM's statement that there are no detention centres, the District Collector, Gwalpara in his official order prohibiting the formation of human chain there admitted that there is a 'Detention Centre (under construction)' in Matia. The yatra demanded that in order to prove the PM right the detention centre(s) under construction at Gwalpara and elsewhere in country should be converted into schools or hospitals.
While the SDM and SP would not allow the yatra to proceed on the pretext of section 144, the yatris were arguing for their fundamental right of freedom of expression, free movement within the country and peaceful assembly.
The yatra was even ready to move and form the human chain in police protection and be brought back to WB border on its return. Justice Forum and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti activists of local organisations were to join the human chain in the beginning but because of the administrative order nobody was allowed to assemble at the site.
Advocate Shiv Kumar from Tamil Nadu, who flew into Guwahati to join the human chain was detained at police station in Gwalpara on 28 February and not allowed to proceed to Matia.
The administration and government in Assam had made up its mind to not let the yatra enter Assam. The yatris did not have any option but to court arrest for violation of section 144. Later in the day they were released on personal undertaking. However, it has been decided that activists part of yatra should visit the detention centre in Matia, if possible, with the help of a court order.
---
*Convener, Khudai Khidmatgar, a Gandhian NGO, prepared this report on Samvidhan Bachao, Nagrikta Bachao, Bharat Banao Yatra, from Rajghat, Delhi, to Detention Centre in Matia, Gwalpara, Assam Yatra, February 23 to March 2, 2020
**Those who participated in the yatra included Sandeep Pandey, Faisal Khan, Syed Tehseen Ahmed, Sahil Ahmed, Jawed Malik, Azam Malik, Chand Mohammad and Kartik Arora from Delhi, Balwant Yadav from Haryana, Dharamveer Singh and Mukhtiyar Singh from Punjab, Javeed Chopan from Jammu & Kaahmir, Kripal Singh Mandloi from Madhya Pradesh, Bilal Kagzi from Gujarat, and Maya Raj and Shiv Kumar from Tamil Nadu

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

ASI has 'no funds' to protect five centuries old Goa church, a World Heritage Site

Counterview Desk
The century-old All-India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest Laity movement in Asia, has blamed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for neglecting the historic Bom Jesu church by keeping its ceilings  open to the vagaries weather, with no steps  taken to protect the five century old monument from damage on account of impending rains on the lame excuse that there are "no funds". In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AICU simultaneously asks the Government of India to devise a "comprehensive" national social security safety net, universal health Insurance and medical Infrastructure so that the “calamity” that has befalenl millions of migrant labour and jobless rural and urban poor in “the Covid pandemic-driven lockdown is “never repeated.”

Withdraw sedition charges against three young women activists: 1100 feminists

Counterview Desk
About 1,100 feminists from all over India – organisations and individuals across religion, class, caste, ethnicity, ability, sexuality and genders – have issued a solidarity statement condemning what they have called “the targeted crackdown on Muslims and women activists in Delhi”, who were at the forefront of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Tablighis or Namaste Trump? Rupani must 'clarify' on origin of Covid-19 in Gujarat

By Mujahid Nafees* In his video communication on April 24, 2020, chief minister Vijay Rupani informed us that in the month of March the Gujarat government had quarantined 6,000 people returning from abroad in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. He further asserted that the spread of Covid-19 was caused by the tablighis returning from Nizamuddin in Delhi. His statements were widely publicized and given front page coverage by some local dailies.

Coping with Covid-19? Options before small, marginal farmers of rainfed regions

By Biswanath Sinha, Kuntal Mukherjee*
The global crisis due to Covid-19 has hit after reaching in western Europe. India’s response to curtail the spread of the disease was quite decisive. It announced a Janata curfew on the March 22, followed by a complete national lockdown from the midnight of March 24.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”