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

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

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.

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.