Lucknow: Mohammad Imtiyaz, 25, was arrested by the Lucknow police on December 19, 2019 for his alleged role in the rioting that happened in the wake of the anti-CAA protest. He is still lodged in the jail as his family does not afford to a lawyer for him.
Imtiyaz’s sister, Amna Khatoon, who totally depended on Imtiyaz’s earning to survive, says that they could not hire any lawyer due to financial constraints, but thankfully, pro bono lawyers are willing to fight his case and crowdfund for the family.
“There was no food in the house for three days because we had no money. Imtiyaz was our only earning member and ever since he has been lodged in the jail in a false case, things have gone haywire in our house. We have been struggling to get food and have been helped by our neighbours and relatives. We do not have any money to fight our brother’s legal case,” Amna says.
Amna was approached by several pro bono lawyers, social activists and even journalists who were ready to help the family, but she turned everyone down due to the fear of the crackdown by Uttar Pradesh Police. Her brother’s case was recently taken up by a pro bono lawyer who is trying to crowdfund the case.
Madhu Garg, an office bearer of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, says that Imtiyaz’s family was very much scared because of the recent events. They have met him only once as they did not have money. “Some people were ready to help them financially, but they declined the offer and now, a pro bono lawyer has taken up the case and is taking the help of friends of Imtiyaz,” Garg told NewsClick.
Pro bono lawyers
As per the official data gleaned from the department of police, 5,558 people were detained and 1,240 were arrested across Uttar Pradesh for participating in the anti-CAA protests called by different groups on December 19 last.
As per the latest figures sourced from official sources, 42 people have secured bail, while more than 150 are still lodged in the jail.
Ali Zaidi, a New Delhi-based advocate practising in the Supreme Court, has taken up many cases pro bono to help the victims who have been lodged in the jail. He said, “Many of the victims are financially so weak that they cannot even afford to go and meet their kin lodged in the jail and cannot opt for a constitutional remedies, as lawyers charge quite a bit.”
“Many others are helping the victims of the police atrocity. The PUCL [People’s Union for Civil Liberties] is also helping the people and many independent advocates from Delhi, Allahabad and Lucknow have come forward to take up these cases. I recently got two people out from the jail by securing their bails and on that basis, 48 more people got bail from the court in Bijnor as the police could not produce any evidence against them,” Ali told NewsClick.
Ashma Izzat, a Lucknow-based advocate who heads the legal team of ‘Samvidhaan Bachao Desh Bachao Andolan’ says, “We recently got 18 people out and there are still over 100 people who are lodged in the jail. We are working as pro bono lawyers as all these people come from very poor background and their kin cannot afford to pay the hefty fees to the advocates. Some of them who are lodged in the jails are waiters and work in small roadside eateries. They were picked up by the police while they were working.”
Izzat said that she is working to collect the data of more such people to be able to help them.
Over 25 people from different zones of the state were reportedly killed in the violence that broke out during the anti-CAA protests. Among them, many were sole bread winners for their respective families. Therefore, some people have come forward to help such families and a large sum of money has been collected through online forums.
As per the data available on the OurDemocracy.in—a website to crowdfund for social and political causes—more than Rs 5,093,000 have been collected to help the victims of the violence.
Breakup of fund-raising:
1) Kanpur Victims
Raised 7.36 lakhs via a Facebook page.
- Rs 3 lakh were given to the family of Aftab Alam.
- Rs 3 lakh were given to the family of Mohammed Raees.
- Rs 1.36 lakh were given to the family of Mohammed Saif.
2) Raising funds for Imrana. Wife of Asif who was killed in Meerut. (Tyre mechanic and an orphan)
Raised Rs 10.5 lakh out of which Rs 10.14 lakh will be given soon.
3) Fund-raising for Salauddin, brother of Aleem Ansari who was killed in Meerut.
Raised Rs 8 lakh.
4) Fund-raising for Zaheer
Raised Rs 90,000 so far. The campaign is still underway.
5) Amir Hanzala, killed in Patna. Fund-raising by Tarique Anwar
Raised Rs 10.26 lakh
6) Suleman, killed in Bijnor. Fund-raising by Anshulika Dubey.
Raised Rs 3.29 lakh. The campaign has stopped now.
7) Anas, killed in Bijnor. Fund-raising by Deepak Gupta
Raised Rs 10.62 lakh.