New Delhi: The Campus Front of India (CFI), student wing of the Kerala-based Popular Front of India, Friday said the arrest of a Kerala-based journalist, two CFI office-bearers, and another man, identified as Alam, is part of a “distraction strategy” of the Uttar Pradesh government to hide its own “failures” in the handling of the alleged gang-rape and murder case in Hathras.
CFI’s national general secretary K.A. Rauf Sherif, while addressing the media, accused the Yogi Adityanath government of trying to muzzle voices of dissent, especially if they are “Muslims” and “Dalits”.
“Look how they led a witch-hunt against anti-CAA protesters like Umar Khalid, see how they are hounding (Bhim Army chief) Chandra Shekhar Aazad,” Sherif said.
According to the CFI, Alam is a driver, who was hired for a trip to Hathras, and has no links with the outfit.
“The journalist and the driver got arrested because they were with the two CFI members. It was easier to charge them with the draconian law because they are Muslims,” Sherif added.
Journalist Siddique Kappan, who works for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham, had accompanied two CFI officer-bearers, Atiq-ur-Rahman, treasurer, and Masood Ahmed, Delhi secretary of CFI, to Hathras.
Sherif claimed the three were going to Hathras to express solidarity with the family of the 20-year old Dalit woman, who was allegedly gang-raped by four upper caste men on 14 September. She died two weeks later.
The UP Police Monday arrested the four in Mathura in their pursuit of what they describe as a “conspiracy” to foment trouble in the state in the backdrop of the suspected crime. Two days later, they were booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which is usually invoked for terrorism charges.
‘Their main agenda is to make Muslims a scapegoat’
Sherif said the arrest is a strategy by the UP government to hide its “failures” in the Hathras case like “cremating the body without family’s consent at midnight” and now building a “contorting” story to hide the “maltreatment meted out by the state officials to the victim”.
“Yogi government is now using Muslims to clean the mess they made in a Dalit case. Their main agenda is to redirect the public anger and make Muslims a scapegoat as always,” he added.
‘They were not carrying pamphlets’
The UP Police had cited a pamphlet that reads “Justice for Hathras victim”, “media reports suggesting” that anti-social elements were trying to initiate a riot in Uttar Pradesh, and some inputs suggesting a “big conspiracy” to disrupt peace in the state as grounds for the arrest of the four.
The CFI members, however, said Rahman and Ahmed did not carry any pamphlets with them.
“The UP Police has planted the evidence. Had they carried those pamphlets, we would have known, as discussions were held about who would go to Hathras to pay a visit to the victim’s family with all national committee members. We are an extremely transparent group,” said Sherif.
CFI members told ThePrint that Rahman, who hails from Meerut, has a postgraduate degree in library studies from Meerut University, while Ahmed completed his masters from Jamia Millia Islamia in public administration.
Both of them were applying for PhD programmes in various universities in Delhi.