Varanasi police booked three persons on Monday under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) for allegedly "hatching a conspiracy" and instigating people to commit violence during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the city on December 20, 2019. The action by the Government came after a recommendation by the District Magistrate.
According to the police, investigation revealed that three persons identified as Tanvir Hayat Khan, Tabish and Sayam Wasim aka Khurram Ansari had instigated people.
“All three have been booked under the NSA for hatching a conspiracy and instigating people,” Rambadan Singh, Superintendent of police (SP), told the media.
Singh added that seventeen other people were identified from among those involved in the stone-pelting and efforts are on to ensure their arrest. Singh also alleged that the police and administration tried to convince the protesters in light of Section 144 being imposed. He added that the group was moving ahead with a violent motive and that they allegedly attacked people with bricks and stones which led to public and government property being damaged.
NewsClick spoke to Tanvir Hayat Khan's family for their version of the incident. Khan’s son, Shaeque said that his father was booked under different sections of the Indian Penal Code along with the NSA on January 12. “He was sent to jail two weeks before he was charged with the NSA. When someone is charged with the NSA, they are produced before the advisory court which will confirm whether they will be booked under NSA or not. In my father’s case, he was charged with NSA without any evidence much before the advisory court uttered a word. The advisory court did not even consider our argument and went by whatever the police said,” he alleged.
Shaeque alleged that his father was arrested a day before the violence on December 20 and sent to jail despite no major incident taking place in Bhadohi or damage to any property. He added that his father was booked under serious charges including the NSA because “he was a leader who represents every community.”
“Neither does the police have any evidence against my father on whether he instigated the mob to violence, nor are they are able to produce it in court. He was not even in Bhadohi during the incident due to a wedding engagement, but despite all that, he has been booked under the NSA,” he added.
A day after the protests, police put up posters with photographs of protesters who allegedly instigated violence. The police also promised locals that they will be given a reward if they helped in nabbing the miscreants while ensuring them that their identities will be kept secret.
Nearly 27 persons who were named and 200 unidentified people were booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in connection with protests at Bhadohi.
Protests against CAA and NRC turned violent on December 20 in Uttar Pradesh after the police resorted to a baton-charge to disperse agitators.
Incidents of violence, arson, and stone-pelting were also reported from various parts of the state even while Section 144 was imposed in the wake of deteriorating law and order situation.
At least 23 people have died in separate incidents of violence during anti-CAA protests across the state.