Lucknow: Shazar Alam, 23, who runs a small saloon in Muslim Nagar, about 15 kilometre away from the Lucknow district headquarters, is scared and contemplating if he should return to his hometown in Sitapur, as his name has appeared in the notice issued to people in the backdrop of the alleged rioting.
Days after the passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by both the houses of Parliament, the state has been witnessing spates of violence. As the clashes between the protesters and the police continue, the civilian death toll has reached 19.
Shazar, along with hundreds of other youths from both Hindu and Muslim communities, from at least four localities of extended Lucknow, have been asked to furnish a financial bond worth Rs 300 each under Section 107/116 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
According to Lucknow-based lawyer Mayank Shukla, this section of the CrPC works as an assurance that people will not take part in any kind of protest and they will appear in the court 12 times in the next six months.
As per Shukla, an executive magistrate has the power to invoke this section against anyone who might pose a threat in terms of breaching the peace.
He says that these notices have come as a shock for many families and they are now scared for the future and careers of their young lads.
“I have taken cases of 16 such youths who come from lower middle class families. All these boys, mostly from the Muslim community, do not have any criminal record, but still have been issued the notice. Their family members are now worried that their kids may get a ‘gangster’ or ‘dabang’ tag and this could hurt their future,” Mayank says.
Explaining the complexity of the case, the advocate says, “One such boy is a meritorious kid who has even received a gold medal for his performance in the studies. But he has also been made to furnish the bond worth Rs 300. The boy is very scared and his family members are now contemplating if they should shift him to some other place after six months [once the obligation to appear in front of the executive magistrate ends]. The family of the boy also fears that the kid may slip into depression.”
“This is just one case I am talking about. There are many others who are going through the same and now, they being Muslims, feel that there is no end to it,” the advocate adds.
The case of Shahbaz and Anees
Shahbaz runs a small electric goods shop in the Shervani Nagar area and also takes small contracts to fix electrical problems in the government departments. Shahabaz says that on the day violence broke out in Lucknow, he was at one of the departments repairing the electrical line and was nowhere involved in anything.
“All that time, I was working at the department and the evidence of me working has also been recorded in the CCTV cameras installed there. I do not want to invite more trouble and that is why I have deposited the money and will be going to the magistrate court (tehsil) to mark the attendance whenever my advocate asks me to. I am a businessman and I have to live here. I will obey whatever the police say, as I have a big family dependent on me,” Shahbaz says.
Shahbaz further says that he does not have any sort of criminal record and none of his family members have ever climbed the steps of the police station.
On the other hand, Anees is a teacher at a local madrassa and was teaching the kids the day violence was unleashed in Lucknow. Anees says that he was also under the surveillance of the CCTV camera and has no record, but still he has been booked.
Haji Irfan, who has also been made to furnish the bond, says that he does not have any knowledge of why he has been made to do so when he was “not involved in anything”.
“I was told by my neighbours that I can be arrested anytime by the police and that now I am a gangster. But I haven’t done anything. I was at my home with my family,” says Irfan, as tears roll down his cheeks.
He adds, “I have two little kids, elderly parents and a wife. If I am lodged in the jail, who will look after my family? They all will starve to death.”
Meanwhile, the Lucknow police remained unavailable for comment and even the tehsil has been closed for winter vacations.
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