An anti-CAA campaign in Uttar Pradesh
An anti-CAA protest in Uttar Pradesh | By special arrangement | ThePrint
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Lucknow: Several cities across Uttar Pradesh have become sites of women-led Shaheen Bagh-like protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, but unlike the national capital, they have been booked by police for charges such as rioting. 

At least eight FIRs have been filed by police in different cities, including Lucknow and Varanasi, against over 1,000 women. These FIRs, which also name men, only concern the protests led by women and are apart from those filed against other demonstrations. While around three dozen people are identified by name in the FIRs, others are unnamed.

While demonstrations in Etawah, Varanasi, Aligarh and Rae Bareli have been forcibly ended by shutting down protest grounds, they continue in Lucknow and Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad).

The one in Lucknow began on 17 January, and the Prayagraj protest started before the CAA was notified on 10 January. 

The charges invoked

According to information available with ThePrint, while three FIRs were lodged in Lucknow, one each has been filed against women protestors in Etawah, Prayagraj, Aligarh, Rae Bareli and Varanasi. 

The FIRs in Lucknow invoke IPC sections 145 (joining unlawful assembly),147 (rioting) and 188 (violation of an order issued by public servants, in this case, prohibitory orders issued under Section 144).

In Varanasi, police have invoked sections 332 (causing hurt to deter public servant from duty) and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) along with 145, 147 and 188. 

In Etawah, Rae Bareli & Prayagraj, police have booked protesters under Section 188.

The named accused include Sumaiya Rana and Fauzia Rana, the daughters of famous Urdu poet Munawwar Rana, and Samajwadi Party leaders Richa Singh and Pooja Shukla. Shukla was detained Saturday.

In Varanasi, police have released a poster with photos of 19 people involved in anti-CAA protests at Benia Bagh Thursday. They have also announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for information about their whereabouts. 

Social activist and Congress leader Srishty Kashyap, who has been named in the Varanasi FIR, said she was “being hounded by police like I am a terrorist”.  

“We were just conducting a silent protest on Thursday afternoon at Benia Bagh and suddenly women police personnel came there and manhandled us,” she added.

There have been allegations of lathicharge too, but police have denied claims that protesters were manhandled.

“We have not manhandled or attacked any protester,” superintendent of police (city) Dinesh Kumar Singh said. 

Police have said they were compelled to file so many FIRs because of Section 144 being in place. Section 144 has been imposed in UP since 18 December, when protests against the CAA first emerged as the law was being passed by Parliament. 

Also read: I am not a refugee — CAA brings much joy, some confusion for Pilibhit’s Bangladeshi Hindus

The protests started in Prayagraj

The series of protests to express solidarity with the women protesting at Shaheen Bagh started from Prayagraj on 10 January, when a large number of women gathered at Mansoor Ali Park. 

Social activist Sara Ahmed, one of the leaders of the local anti-CAA campaign, said it would continue until the government rolled back the law. 

Talking to ThePrint, SP leader Richa Singh said police booked 270 people for violating Section 144 the day after the protest began. She, however, added that the protests will continue nevertheless. 

In Lucknow, protests have been organised in the Ghantaghar area and Gomti Nagar.  

Before she was detained, Pooja Shukla, the national vice-president of the Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha, said police had tried to disband the protest several times. 

In the dark of night, she said, police had confiscated the blankets being used by protesters – police have not denied the claim, saying that distribution of blankets had drawn a lot of people to the site, even those who weren’t even part of the sit-in. The blankets and the people, they said in a statement, were removed by due procedure.

A clarification issued by Lucknow Police regarding confiscation of blankets used by protesters.

Shukla, however, said the protesters remained undaunted. “The protests are going on with the same gusto as before and they will continue until the CAA is rolled back completely,” she said. “This fight will go on unabated. This movement belongs to no political party and it is being carried out by the common women on their own.” 

Social activist and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, who was arrested for participating in anti-CAA protests in December and released this month, is also involved in these protests. 

“I had taken a decision in jail itself that I will continue the fight against CAA-NRC in the future too. Police framed me in false cases. Several protestors are still being harassed,” she said. 

‘Men are hiding’

The protesters have drawn scorn from leaders of the BJP, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. 

This Tuesday, while addressing a pro-CAA rally in Lucknow, Shah said the CAA will not be withdrawn no matter how many protests are held. 

Addressing a public meeting in Kanpur this week, Adityanath said while “men are sleeping under blankets, women are being pushed forward to the frontline of the protests”. They were scared, he added, by the action taken by the government after violence during anti-CAA protests in UP.

The administration will take care of all these protests in its own way, he added.

Protesters, however, say they are not scared. Graduation student Safia Khan, who participates in the Lucknow protests with her grandmother, said more and more women were choosing to join the campaign.

She hoped, she said, that the government will ultimately bow down before their unrelenting protests and demonstrations.  

Also read: Jadavpur student who tore up CAA at convocation takes NRC protest to YouTube


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  1. UP Police seem to have a lot of time on their hands, having rid the state of crime. These 1,000 FIRs will lead to investigation, filing of charge sheets, bringing the wrong doers to trial. Since the trial courts in turn are completely free, not having any pendency, they will take up the cases for immediate disposal, sentence the guilty women to prisons, which have all the space in the world to accommodate fresh convicts.

  2. For what they are protesting? CAA has no impact on Indian citizens, there is no plan for NRC . These people are just trying if they can create a jasmin revolution in India similar to the one happened in middle east .
    But these people doesn’t know this is India and more they continue with this ,they will get isolated more from the mainstream

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