Days after a group of students and activists, including a female journalist, were released on bail from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district jail, the police took them into custody again citing a law and order situation. The protesters were supposed to resume their ‘Satyagraha’ foot march from Ghazipur city to Delhi. However, the police stopped them, took them into different police vans and left them at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
After spending six days in jail, the ‘Satyagrahis’ were released on bail in the evening of February 16. Soon after their release, the students announced they were restarting their march, only to be arrested again by the police.
Speaking to NewsClick, Manish, a protester who was arrested by the police said: “On February 11, everyone was arrested from Birno village in Ghazipur without any prior notice in the presence of two Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Tehsildar, Superintendent of Police (SP) along with about a hundred cops.” Manish said students were told that what they were doing was “illegal”, despite “conducting the march in a manner which does not even breach Section 144, forming groups of three who would go to colleges, religious sites and other public places to raise awareness about the hatred bifurcating society on communal lines.”
He added that a trainee IAS officer detained the students and kept them in Hawai Patti for two hours before sending them to the Ghazipur district jail. “We have been told by cops that our march can make thousands of people stand in our favour,” he said.
He said there was a lot of “pressure” on the administration to stop the march so that they could not discuss the CAA and NRC with people in villages. The student adds that the police is “continuously threatening us and our family” so that they retreat. “Their objection is that we are marching for those killed during the CAA and NRC protests. I don't know why this government is scared of non-violent persons following the Gandhian Path. We will continue our Satyagraha no matter what hurdles come in between," added Manish.
When asked about those detained today, Manish said that people had joined them midway. “They all (12 people) were taken into custody on Monday morning when they were gearing up to continue their foot march but police officials put all of them in the police van and freed them at the main gate of BHU. Five of us who escaped from police also started marching towards Delhi from Ghazipur itself,” he mentioned.
On February 11, Uttar Pradesh Police arrested ten young Gandhian activists for organising a march to Delhi for promoting communal harmony. The activists were marching from the iconic Chauri Chaura to Varanasi in wake of protests over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the brutal repression by state police resulting in deaths of 23 people.
The activists had alleged the police arrested them without citing any reason.
Meanwhile, journalist Pradeepika Saraswat, who was the only woman member among the group of ten to fifteen people who were arrested and kept in Ghazipur district jail, has written a letter from jail which has been making the rounds on social media.
Saraswat penned down a heartfelt note on the condition of the jail, as well her own experience of jail. "There are more than 40 women in two barracks within the jail while one barrack is for only six detainees. Even the officials here believe that there are no complete arrangements in the jail," the journalist wrote in her letter.