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“Everyone has been Silenced”: a comprehensive report on UP violence and its aftermath

The report by Citizens Against Hate (CAH), gives detailed account of alleged episodes of police excess, destruction of property and targeted violence in UP

Sabrangindia 11 Mar 2020

UP Violence

Citizens Against Hate (CAH), a Delhi based collective of individuals and groups concerned with rising trend of hate mobilisation and crime. They released a report titled “Everyone has been Silenced – Police Excesses against anti-CAA protestors in Uttar Pradesh and the post-violence reprisal” put together by a team of human rights experts, defenders and lawyers.

The report has explored various issues that marred the spectacle of violence in Uttar Pradesh after the anti-CAA protests broke out in December 2019, such as gag orders, targeted violence, police subversion of justice, forced burials, doctored FIRs, delayed autopsy reports, witness intimidation, impunity and such other chilling revelations.

The UP administration had taken pre-emptive steps anticipating protests once the Citizenship Amendment Bill became a law by imposing prohibitive orders under section 144 of the CrPC against public assembly. Hence, the state was quick in taking action against protestors and resorted to baton charge without provocation, and used tear gas shells and stun grenades indiscriminately. As per citizens fact finding reports, 22 people died in police firing in the state and several other were grievously injured. UP Police allegedly also ransacked homes and destroyed private property in Muslim neighbourhoods in Muzaffarnagar, Kanpur, Lucknow and Firozabad.

While a lot of BJP ruled states experienced violence against anti-CAA protestors, UP remains the most brutal of them all because it put on display what an extreme police raj looks like and demonstrated to what lengths a government can go to intimidate a certain community by employing means such as brute violence, destruction of property, subversion of justice, exacting of revenge, enabling impunity to the culprits and so on.

In, what the report called “exacting revenge”, it is pointed out that UP police allegedly detained individuals arbitrarily even after the violence had stopped and this included detention of minors in many instances with reports of custodial torture and inhuman treatment towards adults and minors alike. The “revengeful” attitude of the UP administration was also reflected in the authorized sealing of shops and properties of those allegedly involved in violence during the protests. The state also issued recovery notices in order to recover damages caused to public property during the protests and the violence that took place along with it.

The most chilling details come from the families of the people who died during the violence, specially police excess. The report states that families of the deceased from across districts report a pattern of threats and intimidation by police, from the time of registration of complaints to conduct of autopsies. Police in several instances did not allow bodies to be taken home for burial, rather forced burials at distant locations, in hurried funerals, with the intent to dispose off bodies speedily.

According to Post Mortem (PM) reports and photographic evidence, all deaths (except the one in Varanasi) occurred due to gunshot injuries. Whether survivor families have approached the police or not, the offence of murder (Section 302, Indian Penal Code [IPC]) has not been registered. Where they have, FIRs invoke only Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder)), and do not mention bullet wounds, in several cases stating that the death was due to minor injury. In the lone case of FIR registered under Section 302 IPC, it blames unknown protesters for the firing.

.Families report intimidation by police at time of registering FIR, not to record bullet injuries as cause of death; or that police firing might have been the cause, dictating instead that it was protesters’ shooting and/or minor injuries that caused the deaths. Despite some families naming police officers as likely accused, none were recorded in FIRs. There are also reports that police refused to hand bodies back to families, unless they signed off on complaints dictated and drafted by police. In other cases, release of PM report or release of children from detention (Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal) was made conditional on survivors signing off on the dictated statements.

In many instances, families were  allegedly not provided with copies of FIRs immediately until the Allahabad High Court intervened and it was observed that many FIRs were inconsistent with the post mortem reports. The CAH report observes that these are triangulated with survivor testimonies, the extent of the subversion seems nothing but deliberate and systematic.

Most of these actions are being seen as silencing tactics by the state to deter further protests and to stifle Human Rights Defenders by slapping false charges against them and also resorting to filing of open FIRs by not naming the accused, leaving them open for misuse.

As per the report, evidence is also mounting of police in several districts working with vigilante groups to target protesters and maintain order which points towards a perilous situation still prevalent in the state.

The Report’s recommendations included adopting remedial measures like witness protection, registration of cases against policemen, compensation to affected families; as well as preventive measures such as increased representation of reserved categories in police force, better training in human rights violations and crowd control to police personnel as well as reformed procedures in crime registration and investigation.

The report also points towards the institutional bias against the Muslim community in UP. The state has historically witnessed mass targeted violence towards Muslims. In 2018, Delhi High Court in Zulfikar Nasir and Ors. vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, held 16 policemen of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) guilty of “targeted killing by armed forces of the unarmed, innocent and defenceless members of a particular community. The report thus states that the overall context of institutional bias is a prime indicator against which the UP Police’s role and actions can be gauged in the present violence too.

The fact that the prohibitive orders under section 144 of CrPC still continue in UP shows the state’s utter disregards towards human rights violations and its harsh control over public life, creating an atmosphere of terror.

The report also points out how the various commissions that are supposed to protect the interests of certain classes have also failed to bring justice to the affected persons in the state. Bodies like National Commission for Minorities failed to do the needful and the Human Rights Commissions’ procedures have denied any concrete remedies to those affected.

The report is a detailed account of all cases of violence and post violence reprisals and incidents of subversion of justice by the police force. It goes on to include witness testimonials and accounts which clearly point towards a conclusion that state sponsored targeted violence took place in Uttar Pradesh and the ground reality remains that the state intends to continue its reign of terror.


The complete report may be read here. (click here to download the file)


Related:

Motion against India’s divisive Citizenship Amendment Act moved in New Westminster

Delhi violence: Allegations of indiscriminate arrests of Muslim men

Do Indian Courts have no power to intervene when lives are at stake?

“Everyone has been Silenced”: a comprehensive report on UP violence and its aftermath

The report by Citizens Against Hate (CAH), gives detailed account of alleged episodes of police excess, destruction of property and targeted violence in UP

UP Violence

Citizens Against Hate (CAH), a Delhi based collective of individuals and groups concerned with rising trend of hate mobilisation and crime. They released a report titled “Everyone has been Silenced – Police Excesses against anti-CAA protestors in Uttar Pradesh and the post-violence reprisal” put together by a team of human rights experts, defenders and lawyers.

The report has explored various issues that marred the spectacle of violence in Uttar Pradesh after the anti-CAA protests broke out in December 2019, such as gag orders, targeted violence, police subversion of justice, forced burials, doctored FIRs, delayed autopsy reports, witness intimidation, impunity and such other chilling revelations.

The UP administration had taken pre-emptive steps anticipating protests once the Citizenship Amendment Bill became a law by imposing prohibitive orders under section 144 of the CrPC against public assembly. Hence, the state was quick in taking action against protestors and resorted to baton charge without provocation, and used tear gas shells and stun grenades indiscriminately. As per citizens fact finding reports, 22 people died in police firing in the state and several other were grievously injured. UP Police allegedly also ransacked homes and destroyed private property in Muslim neighbourhoods in Muzaffarnagar, Kanpur, Lucknow and Firozabad.

While a lot of BJP ruled states experienced violence against anti-CAA protestors, UP remains the most brutal of them all because it put on display what an extreme police raj looks like and demonstrated to what lengths a government can go to intimidate a certain community by employing means such as brute violence, destruction of property, subversion of justice, exacting of revenge, enabling impunity to the culprits and so on.

In, what the report called “exacting revenge”, it is pointed out that UP police allegedly detained individuals arbitrarily even after the violence had stopped and this included detention of minors in many instances with reports of custodial torture and inhuman treatment towards adults and minors alike. The “revengeful” attitude of the UP administration was also reflected in the authorized sealing of shops and properties of those allegedly involved in violence during the protests. The state also issued recovery notices in order to recover damages caused to public property during the protests and the violence that took place along with it.

The most chilling details come from the families of the people who died during the violence, specially police excess. The report states that families of the deceased from across districts report a pattern of threats and intimidation by police, from the time of registration of complaints to conduct of autopsies. Police in several instances did not allow bodies to be taken home for burial, rather forced burials at distant locations, in hurried funerals, with the intent to dispose off bodies speedily.

According to Post Mortem (PM) reports and photographic evidence, all deaths (except the one in Varanasi) occurred due to gunshot injuries. Whether survivor families have approached the police or not, the offence of murder (Section 302, Indian Penal Code [IPC]) has not been registered. Where they have, FIRs invoke only Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder)), and do not mention bullet wounds, in several cases stating that the death was due to minor injury. In the lone case of FIR registered under Section 302 IPC, it blames unknown protesters for the firing.

.Families report intimidation by police at time of registering FIR, not to record bullet injuries as cause of death; or that police firing might have been the cause, dictating instead that it was protesters’ shooting and/or minor injuries that caused the deaths. Despite some families naming police officers as likely accused, none were recorded in FIRs. There are also reports that police refused to hand bodies back to families, unless they signed off on complaints dictated and drafted by police. In other cases, release of PM report or release of children from detention (Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal) was made conditional on survivors signing off on the dictated statements.

In many instances, families were  allegedly not provided with copies of FIRs immediately until the Allahabad High Court intervened and it was observed that many FIRs were inconsistent with the post mortem reports. The CAH report observes that these are triangulated with survivor testimonies, the extent of the subversion seems nothing but deliberate and systematic.

Most of these actions are being seen as silencing tactics by the state to deter further protests and to stifle Human Rights Defenders by slapping false charges against them and also resorting to filing of open FIRs by not naming the accused, leaving them open for misuse.

As per the report, evidence is also mounting of police in several districts working with vigilante groups to target protesters and maintain order which points towards a perilous situation still prevalent in the state.

The Report’s recommendations included adopting remedial measures like witness protection, registration of cases against policemen, compensation to affected families; as well as preventive measures such as increased representation of reserved categories in police force, better training in human rights violations and crowd control to police personnel as well as reformed procedures in crime registration and investigation.

The report also points towards the institutional bias against the Muslim community in UP. The state has historically witnessed mass targeted violence towards Muslims. In 2018, Delhi High Court in Zulfikar Nasir and Ors. vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, held 16 policemen of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) guilty of “targeted killing by armed forces of the unarmed, innocent and defenceless members of a particular community. The report thus states that the overall context of institutional bias is a prime indicator against which the UP Police’s role and actions can be gauged in the present violence too.

The fact that the prohibitive orders under section 144 of CrPC still continue in UP shows the state’s utter disregards towards human rights violations and its harsh control over public life, creating an atmosphere of terror.

The report also points out how the various commissions that are supposed to protect the interests of certain classes have also failed to bring justice to the affected persons in the state. Bodies like National Commission for Minorities failed to do the needful and the Human Rights Commissions’ procedures have denied any concrete remedies to those affected.

The report is a detailed account of all cases of violence and post violence reprisals and incidents of subversion of justice by the police force. It goes on to include witness testimonials and accounts which clearly point towards a conclusion that state sponsored targeted violence took place in Uttar Pradesh and the ground reality remains that the state intends to continue its reign of terror.


The complete report may be read here. (click here to download the file)


Related:

Motion against India’s divisive Citizenship Amendment Act moved in New Westminster

Delhi violence: Allegations of indiscriminate arrests of Muslim men

Do Indian Courts have no power to intervene when lives are at stake?

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