Internet services were suspended as a precautionary measure in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh on Friday after certain protests held on June 30 against the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand went out of control and took a violent turn.
As per reports, the incident took place on Sunday when a local outfit, Yuva Sewa Samiti (YSS), had sought permission to take out a peace march to pay homage to Tabrez Ansari. However, the administration claimed that they denied the permission as Section 144 of the CrPC (unlawful assembly of more than four persons) was in place. Yet, the outfit went ahead with the march. The protesters had claimed that during Friday prayers (June 28), it was announced that a peaceful procession will take place in Meerut since such protests are taking place everywhere across the country. But despite repeated requests to the police as well district administration, the officials remained inaccessible. When the protesters began to assemble, police reportedly lathicharged to disperse the mob. Later, president of YSS, Badar Ali, who had organised the march, was arrested by police days after the police had announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for anybody providing information about Ali.
FIRs have been filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the "National Security Act (NSA) will also be invoked against those who are being identified by us through available mobile videos to us," Meerut's SSP was quoted as saying by news channels. The police have registered cases against nearly 2,575 persons (75 named, 2,000 unidentified) in five different police stations of Meerut district. They were booked under IPC Section 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 352 (assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and under section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
Meanwhile, this is second time when internet services were suspended by local administration within five days. On July 1, days after the incident took place, internet services were suspended for 24 hours in order to curb rumour-mongering.
Tabrez Ansari, who was mercilessly thrashed by a mob in Jharkhand’s Kharsawan district on the suspicion of theft, fell ill while in judicial custody, and died reportedly on way to a hospital.
NewsClick approached a dozen people to talk about the current situation, but people refused to comment over the issue saying that Muslims of Meerut are living in fear and do not want to speak to the media.
However, IA Khan, uncle of Badar Ali, told NewsClick, “My nephew Babar led the protest, but when people started to assemble, police suddenly came and asked not to protest. Babar was targeted because his organisation is doing tremendous work for the needy people in Meerut. There is not a single crime against Babar and police made him ‘wanted’ criminal just because of the protest, and announced a reward on him.”
SSP Ajay Sahni who took over after SSP Nitin Tiwari’s transfer had told mediapersons that at least 55 people had been arrested in this connection and more arrests will be done soon.
Several Muslim families have decried that the police have wrongly framed several youths who were not even present or were simply passing the area when the incident took place and had no connection with the violence.