Actor-activist Sadaf Jafar, who was arrested last month in Lucknow while she was doing a Facebook Live session as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act descended into violence, alleged torture by police as she walked out of the jail today. "I was kicked in stomach and called a Pakistani," Ms Jafar said. She was granted bail last week and released from the prison this morning.
Accused of rioting and attempt to murder, Ms Jafar alleged that she was tortured by cops who had arrested her from the protest at Lucknow's Parivartan Chowk on December 19.
"I was called a Pakistani because of my name and I was beaten up. The bike of one of the female cops was burnt during the protests. She said she would avenge it... then she clawed my face," Ms Jafar recalled.
"Later in the night, I was told 'a senior police officer wants to meet you'. I thought he would help and inform my family. When I went to his room, I was abused badly. Then he asked a female cop to hit me. But he was not satisfied... he pulled my hair and then kicked me in stomach. None of the cops were wearing badges," she said.
"They were acting like goons," Ms Jafar told NDTV.
Uttar Pradesh's police chief OP Singh told NDTV he was not aware of any such incident but was willing to get it investigated if a formal complaint is lodged.
The actor-activist's arrest last month had triggered widespread outrage. Among those who had called for her release were Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi and filmmaker Mira Nair.
Last few weeks in police custody "felt like a black hole," she said today. "Anybody who came looking for me at Hazratganj police station was also being detained.... It was like a black hole," she shared.
Former IPS officer and noted activist SR Darapuri, who was also in jail since last three weeks, was also released today. Mr Darapuri, a 76-year-old cancer patient, was under an unofficial house arrest on the day of protests in Lucknow, he said. He was granted bail on Saturday.
"They took me from my home... there is evidence and yet the Lucknow police claims that I was arrested from a park. When I asked for a blanket at the police station or for some food, I was denied both. I am ashamed of the Lucknow police's conduct. These are basic rights of citizens. My priority now is to fight for bail for all those innocent people the police have arrested," said Mr Darapuri.
Violent protests had broken out across Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the country after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill sailed through both houses of parliament last month. Over 25 have died in the protests across the country; there have been 21 deaths in Uttar Pradesh alone.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India before 2015 because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.