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CAA-NRC: How CrPC Is Being Used to Silence Protests in UP

Saurabh Sharma |
UP Police has issued notices to 13 people in the western district of Sambhal, asking them to sign a personal bond of Rs 50 lakh each.

A protest gathering in Bareilly against the CAA/NRC

Lucknow: In what looks like an attempt to suppress the voices of protest echoing across the Hindi heartland, the Uttar Pradesh Police first imposed section 144, then arrested a massive number of protesters, issued property confiscating notices and is now making them sign financial bonds worth several lakhs of rupees under CrPC 107/116.

As per the information gathered by NewsClick, 13 people in the western district of Sambhal have been issued notices asking them to sign a personal bond of Rs 50 lakh each. The notices also order that these people should not participate in any kind of disruptive activities.

On being questioned about the notices, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Rajesh Kumar told NewsClick over telephone, “Based on the intelligence information with the police, the notices were issued. The police suspect that these people may get involved in violence or breach the peace of the city so these people have been made to sign a bond of Rs 50 lakh with two sureties.”

The SDM even said that the same notices may be sent to over 20 people in the coming days based on the information local police are gathering, adding that the police has names of about 36 people who can affect the law and order of the town.

According to the local police, an FIR against many unnamed was also lodged at the Nakhasa Police Station under section 188 which is filed on disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant and section 155 which is filed on the statement conducting public mischief.

Also read: Anti-CAA Protests: 53 Persons, Mostly Daily Wagers, Told to Pay Rs 23 Lakh for ‘Property Damage’ in Muzaffarnagar

Devendra Singh, SHO Nakhasa PS told NewsClick over phone that no arrests have been made yet.

It may be mentioned that same CrPC section was earlier used in the state capital Lucknow against more than hundreds of youths and also against four students of the Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh.

Sambhal was the first UP town to witness two deaths in the anti-CAA-NRC protests that happened on December 19 last year, in which 45 people were sent to jail after more than 10 FIRs were filed. According to India Kanoon, Section 111 CrPC order is made when a Magistrate acting under section 107, section 108, section 109 or section 110, deems it necessary to require any person to show cause under such section, he shall make an order in writing, setting forth the substance of the information received, the amount of the bond to be executed, the term for which it is to be in force, and the number, character and class of sureties (if any) required.

Dr A K Pandey, an associate professor at the Ram Manohar Lohia Law University in Lucknow, said it is impossible to ensure fairness at the level of police when it comes to using such sections against the public.

“The police have power to use these sections only to maintain law and order. The issue of use or abuse of power is a different thing and fairness can be tested only in the court. If the police fails to prove the charges then there is some fault in it,” he said, adding, “The police forgets its power of convenience and it is indeed surprising that police are filing multiple FIRs which looks like a tactic to stop people from protesting by scaring them.”

Also read: Fact-finding Report from UP: Young Victims of State Violence Narrate Ordeal

Commenting on the financial bonds people have been made to sign, he said, “The problem is with this particular section of the CrPC as there is no mention of the amount and the police in commissionary system or the sub-divisional magistrate or even the executive magistrate uses the financial evaluation system of the person to issue the bond and it differs from person to person.”

Former UP DGP Vikram Singh on being asked about the current situation, said, “It is the right of the police to use laws as per the IPC and Indian Constitution but it should not be indiscriminately used.”

“Taking security measures is good and justified but a small mistake can result in bad consequences. The police should not act in vindictiveness and rules of police manuals must be followed in cases like such. Just remember ‘Punishing all equals to Punishing None’,” the former top cop said.

He further commented that this crisis is due to the failure of application of mind. “With proper dialogue, key people and leaders can help in avoiding unrest. The police should use minimum force and women should be handled by the female police only as women are never trouble makers. The actions taken by the UP Police lately are hurting the credibility of the police system.”

As an advice to the police, he said, “The department should immediately start the orientation program of the police which is also mentioned in the police manual because at the end of day you and me have to stay here while the power (politics) will keep on changing. The police should not act in vindictiveness.”

Meanwhile, the Lucknow district administration on Thursday, February 13, reportedly directed 13 accused to pay Rs 22 lakh as compensation for damaging public property in violence during anti-CAA protests in Khadra locality under Hasanganj police station in the city on December 19, 2019.

The 13 accused include Osama Siddiqui, Mohammed Hashim, Dharamvir Singh, Mohammed Kalim of Jankipuram and another Mohammed Kalim of Hasanganj, Mukhtar Ahmad, Mohammed Zakir, Mohammed Mubeen, Wasim, Mohammed Shafiuddin, Mahenoor Chaudhary, Hafiz-ur-Rehman, and Salman.  Out of the 13 from whom damages will be recovered, six did not reply to the notice, hence were considered guilty, while seven could not provide sufficient evidence to prove their innocence, the order stated. The 13 accused are collectively and individually responsible for paying damages, it added. In a dig at police, the order says, “Over 10,000 persons were involved in the anti-CAA protests during which violence broke out, but police could identify only a few. As a result, the responsibility of many others involved in violence could not be fixed.”

Also read: ‘What Government is Scared of Non-Violent Citizens?’ ask Anti-CAA Activists Arrested in U.P.

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