A noted theatre artiste arrested by the Lucknow police last month amid Citizenship Amendment Act protests walked out of prison on bail this morning. Deepak Kabir, who was taken into custody after he went to a police station to enquire about his detained friends, has been charged with rioting and attempted murder.
Mr Kabir, who is also involved in activism, has accused the police of assaulting him in custody. "My wife and I attended a peaceful protest on December 19, after which we returned home. That night, we discovered that some of our activist friends such as Sadaf Jafar were nowhere to be found," he told NDTV.
The theatre artiste said he went to the Hazratganj police station to enquire about them the next day, only to find himself face-to-face with a hostile inspector. "He caught hold of me, saying 'chalo, aapki kranti nikaalte hain (let's cure you of your revolution)'. They called me one of the masterminds of the protests and beat me up, even denying me water to drink. It was like they were exacting revenge for something," he added.
Mr Kabir said he was eventually allowed a cup of tea and sent for a medical test. "From there, they took me to the police chief's office, where I was told that my hairstyle resembled that of a communist. I was called an 'urban Naxal'. There was a lot of hate and revenge going around," he told NDTV, clarifying that he was never in favour of violent protests.
The theatre artiste was also served a property attachment notice while in prison. The Lucknow police have denied assaulting him in custody, claiming that he was arrested in accordance with due procedure.
Mr Kabir claimed that he did not fear persecution by the authorities. "They can't do anything: There are many videos of us singing, asking people to disperse, talking about the importance of keeping the peace. I am compiling those videos right now," he said, wondering how the administration can indiscriminately catch people and serve them property attachment notices.
After protests against the amended citizenship law in Uttar Pradesh turned violent last month, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had promised to take "revenge" against those involved in destroying property by auctioning their property. "All properties of those involved in damaging public assets will be seized and auctioned to compensate for the losses... We will take badla," he said.
Actor-activist Sadaf Jafar was arrested by Lucknow police while doing a Facebook live session last month. Bailed out of prison on Tuesday, she alleged that police kicked her in the stomach and called her a "Pakistani" while in custody. Others arrested around the same time were 76-year-old human rights lawyer Mohd Shoaib and former IPS officer SR Darapuri.
While granting bail to Mr Darapuri and Sadaf Jafar, the judge noted that the police were unable to come up with any evidence of violence against them in the last three weeks.