On January 22, 2019, a press conference was organized at the Press Club of India on the students’ report on the atrocities by the UP Police during the anti-CAA protests which were presented and discussed. The students represented 30 central, state and private universities and they went on the fact finding mission to collect the important facts, video-audio testimonies and also communicate with the victims of the violence to get the overall view.
Tripti Bharadwaj from Delhi School of Social Welfare talked about the gross manipulation of narrative by the police as they blamed the victims of their violence as being part of some gang-war or terrorizing activity. Ananya from DU makes us aware of how not a single politician went to visit the common citizens who suffered due to the police violence.
Akash Pandey from IIMC who went to Firozabad said that those who died there hailed from extremely marginalised sections, living mostly near industrial areas. One student told how an 8-year-old who was a tea seller was accused of rioter and much more incidents like these.
What comes to notice is joint power abuse by the state machinery and the media. Local leaders were arrested by the police 2-3 days post protest and the media put up their pictures with name and address to convince the public of their “terrorising” activity.
In Firozabad, Meerut, Lucknow, Kanpur, etc. the Police did not condemn a single person who was pelting stones. In hospitals, people were refused to be treated, post-mortems were not done, and within half an hour, bodies were buried in the presence of the police.
The major point made during the conference was the dangerous pattern that the police violence was following in order to stop the protests which included targeting the lower class Muslim population, a manipulation of narratives and evidence by the police officials, the media’s passivity and inaccurate reporting, etc.
To protest is a right that cannot be curtailed in any which way. The clash is no more between the ideologies but between the state and the citizens and when that happens, one knows that the democracy is in grave danger.