Aligarh Anti-CAA Protest: AMU Student Sharjeel Usmani Arrested From His Native Place In Azamgarh
Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, JULY 9—Continuing its drive against activists who played a leading role against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the UP police on Wednesday evening arrested Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) student Sharjeel Usmani from his parental house in Sidhari area of Azamgarh town in East UP.
Confirming his arrest Aligarh Additional Superintendent of Police(Crime) Arvind Kumar, told India Tomorrow, "Sharjeel was wanted in five criminal cases registered against him,including the one on firing and stone-pelting on police during anti-CAA protest at the AMU main gate on December 15".
Sharjeel was produced before the aligarh court at the time of filing this report. Kumar said that police had not demanded his police remand. "It is for the honourable court to send him to juidicial custody or to police custody. We are not demanding his police custody", said Kumar.
His family members in the village told mediapersons that it was around 6 pm on Wednesday when five plainclothesmen came to the village looking for Sharjeel. On being asked, they identified themselves as sleuths from the crime branch of the state police.
They arrested Sharjeel from a tea stall. However, they did not show their identity proof. They also did not show arrest warrant when demanded by the family members. When asked about the charges for which he was being arrested, the sleuths, pointing towards Sharjeel, said, “He knows it all”.
Villagers told reporters that the police tied both of his hands on the back as if he was a dreaded criminal.
Sharjeel’s father Dr. Tariq Mahmood Usmani, a professor in Geography department of AMU, told India Tomorrow that the cops immediately took Sharjeel to some place in the town and returned again. “They searched the room of the Sharjeel, confiscated his laptop and books. They have also confiscated Sharjeel’s mobile phone”, Dr. Usmani said.
They asked all the male members of the family to assemble in one of the rooms and took a group photograph. “I don’t know what the police are up to”, narrated Sharjeel’s father over phone from Aligarh.
He said that neither he nor any of his family members has officially been informed by the police as to on what charges his son was arrested, who arrested them and where was he being kept now.
“I have come through media sources that he has been arrested by UP Anti-Terrorism Squad”, he said.
“I don’t know where he is now”, said, Dr. Usmani.
He said that Sharjeel had taken part in anti-CAA agitation in Aligarh on December 15. “He is among 52 persons named in the police FIR”, he said. However, Dr. Usmani said that taking part in a democratic and peaceful agitation is no crime in a democratic country.
Sharjeel had completed his BA in Political Science from AMU.
The FIR was registered by the police alleging that students attacked the cops on duty with stones at the AMU's main gate in which 19 policemen were injured. It was after this that the police entered the university with permission from university authorities. There was lot of criticism against the police for disproportional use of force and attacking students and destroying their vehicles in hostels without provocation. A fact-finding team led by IAS-turned-activist Harsh Mander and Prof. Chaman Lal confirmed the students claims of police brutality. About 100 students were reported to have been injured, and about two dozen of them seriously.
The students were booked under various sections of the IPC, including 307 (attempt to murder), as also 147 (rioting), 148, 149, 153, 188, 189, 332, 336, 504, 506, section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. Police have filed a chargesheet in the case.
Dr. Usmani said that Sharjeel contributed on human rights issues to several news portals like Firstpost, Newslaundry, Maktoob and DailyO.
The UP police have booked cases against hundreds of anti-CAA activists all over the state and now slapping charges under stringent Gangster Act on them. In Lucknow, the police have initiated action for seizing properties of those activists who have been accused of their involvement in damages to public properties. Among those who have been issued seizure notices include former IPS officer S R Darapuri, activist and advocate Shoaib Khan and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar.
Meanwhile human rights activist including Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India and Rajiv Yadav of Lucknow-based Rihai Manch have strongly criticized the arrest of Sharjeel and his handcuffing by the police.
Sharjeel has got support from many students and activists on the social media who have launched a campaign with hashtag #Release SharjeelUsmani.
One Swati Khanna tweeted, “Sharjeel Usmani has been illegally detained. This is ABDUCTION. I would urge his well wishers to kindly file a Habeas Corpus Writ Petition in the Allahbad High Court as soon as possible. This anarchy won't be accepted”.
Milli Gazette tweeted, “Notorious UP police picks up @SharjeelUsmani, AMU graduate, who assertively writes about Muslim issues and rights. As usual reportedly police didn’t follow the guidelines or rules #ReleaseSharjeelUsmani”.