Lucknow: On 19 December, when protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Lucknow witnessed massive violence, social activist and Congress spokesperson Sadaf Jafar was the only woman arrested, along with 150 others including former IPS officer S.R. Darapuri.
At the time, Jafar was streaming a Facebook Live video, and asking the police to arrest the stone-pelters. But now, she has been charged with 18 serious offences, including inciting violence and damaging public property.
Sister alleges brutality
Jafar is a well-known social activist in Lucknow, and a media panellist of the UP Congress. She taught at a private school in the city for a long time.
She has also been active at various protest demonstrations, while on social media, she keeps raising issues against the Yogi Adityanath government.
The day after the violence, Jafar’s sister Naheed Varma put up a Facebook post, giving the news of her arrest and alleging that the police was “complicit in sabotage”.
Speaking to ThePrint, Varma said she went to meet Jafar, who told her she had been beaten up. Varma said Jafar had told her that when miscreants started pelting stones at police personnel at Parivartan Chowk, she went live on Facebook. That’s when the police arrested her.
In one video, she could be heard saying that the police wasn’t taking any action against the stone-pelters.
She even asked the police personnel why they weren’t stopping the miscreants, why they were standing still and watching the drama, and what the use of their helmets was. In another video, as a policeman approached her to arrest, she asked why she was being arrested instead of those pelting stones.
Varma has been trying to bail out Jafar, but hasn’t been successful so far.
Meanwhile, UP Congress chief Ajay Lallu told ThePrint that the party’s legal cell is constantly trying to secure Jafar’s bail. “Her arrest is totally wrong. She was protesting peacefully,” he said.
हमारी महिला कार्यकर्ता सदफ ज़फ़र पुलिस को बता रही थीं कि उपद्रवियों को पकड़ो और उन्हें यूपी पुलिस ने बुरी तरह से मारा पीटा व गिरफ्तार कर लिया। वह दो छोटे-छोटे बच्चों की मां हैं। ये सरासर ज्यादती है। इस तरह का दमन एकदम नहीं चलेगा।https://t.co/ydS8uYuosM
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) December 22, 2019
Another activist in the dock
Deepak Kabir, another social activist from Lucknow, has also been arrested. Kabir is a well-known theatre artist and poet, who organises an annual cultural programme called Kabir Festival.
Kabir’s wife Veena Rana put up a Facebook post on 20 December, saying he had been incommunicado since that morning and asking for information on his whereabouts.
But when the Lucknow police released pictures of the alleged miscreants accused of fuelling the violence Saturday, Kabir’s picture was also featured.
What the police say
Lucknow SSP Kalanidhi Naithani told the media that about 150 people have been arrested, adding that three FIRs have been filed in Hasanganj, two in Hazratganj, four in Thakurganj and two in Qaiserbagh. He said this number is expected to rise.
Explaining the basis of the arrests, Naithani said a team has been deployed to watch video recordings and CCTV footage, as well as photos and videos that have gone viral on social media.
Earlier, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered strict action against those who instigated it. He had told ANI: “All of them are being identified through CCTV footage and videos.”
He had also said such persons’ property will be confiscated to pay for the damage to public property, and given the administration a free hand to deal with them.