News is still filtering out of Uttar Pradesh amidst an internet clampdown, prohibitory orders with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath taking his promised ‘revenge’ on the hapless population even as he asserts control over the large state. A Trinamool Congress delegation was stopped at Lucknow, Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav who held initial protests feels there is little point in MPs visiting the state as they will not be allowed in, but meanwhile the Muslim localities in western UP in particular and in Lucknow are facing the brunt of Adityanath’s publicly declared revenge.
Videos from authentic sources establish police brutality, with the men barging into homes, smashing whatever they could lay their hands on, beating and abusing those inside the houses, even as the death toll of protestors moved officially to 15. Local residents insist it is far more but this could neither be confirmed nor denied with Opposition legislators unable to ascertain the extent of damage and anger.
The only Opposition leader who has visited homes of the affected till date is the Congress party’s Priyanka Gandhi, who visited Bijnore Sunday to meet the families of two persons killed. She also interacted with the people who shared their tales of terror, following a protest demonstration in the town that the police said had turned violent. But as a young woman from Muzaffarnagar said in a video, “They can arrest those who pelted stones, we do not want violence either, but why are they destroying our homes, coming inside and beating us and smashing everything we have?” Her voice was quivering as she spoke.
Allegations of the police vandalising houses, breaking cars, forcing their way into homes are mounting as the wall of silence is slowly being penetrated by video and audio accounts. While it is difficult to establish the veracity of the multitude of video clips, reports from the ground confirm the police role with mass arrests being reported from across the state. Citizens took to social media to ask for help for a teacher, Sadar Jafar, who was live on Facebook posting videos from a protest site. She can be heard questioning the police, and in one urging someone she knows who was passing by her house, not to go further as she did not want him to be hurt. She was arrested, a single mother with two small children. Her friends have sent out tweets saying that they have not been able to trace her.
An authenticated message spoke of an elderly couple --87 and 80 years old-- in Rampur. The elderly gentleman is a retired government officer. Late at night a posse of about 30 policemen entered their home, breaking down the main door and abusing their nurse and the domestic help in the house. They barged through the house, broke the windows, verbally abused the nurse who tried to tell them no one else was in the house, terrorised the old couple and left. The couple have lived their retired life in the city, the gentleman being a highly respected civil servant during his term in the UP government.
In a new move the Adityanath administration has taken upon itself to seal the properties of those it even suspects of having participated in demonstrations. Over 65 shops and properties have been sealed in Muzaffarnagar alone. These figures are available as here the district administration has told reporters that these were seized as the commercial establishments had been shuttered, and that this suggested that the owners had prior notice of the protest demonstration held in the town.
Police pickets have been created outside localities largely inhabited by Muslims in the state with families, as some said in Lucknow, living in abject fear and terror. News is coming in of prominent persons being arrested from across the state, with the police using sections related to attempted murder, criminal intimidation, criminal assault on public servants, criminal conspiracy to book the almost 1,000 detained. Activists in the state say these are conservative figures.
Adityanath had stated just four days ago, before the police started its action, that “There was violence in Lucknow and Sambhal and we will deal with it strictly. All property of those involved in damaging public assets will be seized and auctioned to compensate for the losses.” He further added that those damaging property have been captured in CCTV and video footage. “We will take revenge from them by seizing their property,” he said.