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Khaki is the New Fear

The very ‘guardians of law’ took a monstrous form in Uttar Pradesh as the police maneuvered in establishing a soul stirring example of brutality by targeting the Muslim dominated areas of the state.

For the past two months, India has been seemingly swallowed up in the historic fire of the biggest nationwide protests in over four decades. The draconian bill, CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), which is evidently the purveyor of the divisive ideology of ‘one nation, one religion’ has been widely condemned by the most powerful entity of a nation; the people. The bill is believed to be clearly hosting a fascistic tendency and undoubtedly rips apart the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution. However, the dissent didn’t go down so well with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and his Hindu Nationalist BJP Government. It met with blatant repression, with authorities imposing Section 144, and the police using batons and firing tear gas openly on the demonstrators.

Protesters throw bricks during a rally against CAA, in Muzzafarnagar.
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The brutalities of the police and its ruthlessness shuddered Uttar Pradesh, more than any other region, as the state witnessed the highest death toll and the most intense police crackdowns. According to several accounts given to the media by the victims, police in the state is in the circle of many allegations : violence against the student protesters of the Aligarh Muslim University; attacking peaceful crowds with lathis, tear-gas and bullets; beating Muslim bystanders on the street; raiding and looting Muslim homes while raising Islamophobic slurs; detaining and torturing Muslim children. The allegations further includes filing criminal charges against Muslims who had never been to the protest.

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath said the government will take revenge from those people who damaged public property during protests against CAA. “They have been captured in video and CCTV footage. We will take badla (revenge) from them’, he said. And, the order seems to have come from the top. In Muzzafarnagar, the affect of the police brutality went on to an even higher degree and a series of unfortunate events unfolded on 20th and 21st December. The trouble began when a peaceful demonstration turned violent as police tried to thrash the protesters. Vehicles were lit on fire and stones were pelted, this led to the police open firing on the crowd. The police allegedly searched for the people who took part in the protest, entered the nearby Sadat Madrasa (orphanage), and started destroying everything on their way. Maulana Azad Raza Hussaini (66), and 35 of his students, 15 of whom were below 18 and mostly orphans, were taken to the nearby police barracks. Here, the cleric was stripped of his clothes and was brutally beaten, whilst the students were tortured using bamboo sticks, causing rectal bleeding.

According to multiple reports, the late night raids on Muslim homes, carried out in Muzzafarnagar and across the state. Over those two days, women, children, elderly, were not spared of the repercussions of police brutality. Similarly on December 19th, at least three people were hit by bullets during a protest against CAA, in Hussainabad. Two of those people were teenage boys who were just stuck between the violence occurring at the protest. Muslim residents of the area alleged that the police raided and vandalized their homes while beating several people. On December 20th, police in Meerut smashed the windows and doors of shops and destroyed vehicles in the Muslim dominated areas.

Protests taking a violent turn, vehicles being burnt in UP.
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Two families in Nazia Sarai area of Bijnor, claimed that the police entered their homes, vandalized and looted their home and also threatened to sexually assault one of the women. In Bijnor’s Nagina Town, the police arrested at least 100 people for alleged violence, 15 of them minors; the youngest being 13 years old. The children told The Huffington Post that they were physically abused in police custody for almost 48 hours. On the very same day, in Varanasi, police violence led to a stampede, that left 11 year old Sagir Ahmad, crushed to death. He was not a part of the protest but just happened to be there. The District Magistrate of Varanasi said, “such things keeps happening”, mocking the child’s death. In Firozabad, 30 year old buffalo seller, Mohd. Haroon, was shot on his neck by a bullet fired by an unknown person. He died in the AIIMS Trauma Centre, Delhi, on December 26th.

These are but fragments of the rampant violence and barbarism that has choked the very essence of humanity and the principles on which the foundation of this nation is modeled. The discordant and fanatic mentality manifested itself in the unconstitutional handling of the dissent, in the recent stroke of nationwide protests, which is not just morally shallow and inhumane, but also a testimony of our democratic framework being strangled at the hands of an authoritarian and absolute form of governance.

Nuzhat Khan
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia

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Written by Nuzhat Khan

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