More maturity and restraint expected, Magsaysay awardee tells Yogi in an open letter

Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey.   | Photo Credit: V. Raju

In an open letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey on Thursday condemned the “vengeance” with which the State government was acting in response to the violence during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

While stating that the violence was perpetrated by “anarchist elements,” Mr. Pandey said more “maturity and restraint” was expected of any government administration.

This comes in the aftermath of the UP police and administration arresting over 900 persons and detaining more than 5,500 others on charges of violence during the protests against the controversial law, which many see as discriminatory. At least 18 persons have died, mostly due to bullet injuries, including one in the state capital.

On December 19, Mr. Adityanath had said that his government would exact “revenge” from those who were involved in the arson and vandalism by confiscating and auctioning their property as compensation for the damage to public and private property. The State has ready started issuing notices to people it believes were part of the violence.

Mr. Pandey referred to the arrests of several social activists and students in Lucknow and Varanasi, and said, “If you’ll send social activists, who have faith in the Constitution, to jail because your police in unable to identify the anarchist elements then the space for peaceful means of expressing dissent with the government in a democracy will be eliminated and anarchist elements will be easily able to mislead the common people.”

He had sought an appointment with Mr. Adityanath on December 21 but did not get a response. Hence, he penned the open letter, he said.

Some of the names Mr. Pandey refers to are senior advocate and Rihai Manch president Mohammad Shoaib, retired Indian Police Services officer and Dalit activist S.R. Darapuri, scholar-activist Robin Verma, Congress party member Sadaf Jafar, cultural activist Deepak Kabir and Dalit lecturer Pawan Rao Ambedkar.

Mr. Pandey, who was himself placed under house arrest during the protests, asked “A pertinent question which needs to be asked is when lakhs of people assembled at other places in the country without any untoward incident, why did violence break out in UP?”

He also pointed to the alleged communal bias in the police action, saying in the FIRs registered in response to violence during protests most of the names of the accused were Muslims.

For example, Mr. Pandey said, in the FIR registered Hazratganj, Lucknow out of 39 accused, 36 names were those of Muslims “whereas non-Muslims participated in the protests in large numbers”, and that all of the 16 youths who succumbed to bullet injuries were Muslims.

“If there will be a bias against Muslims in taking action then how can they be expected to have confidence in the government administration,” the Magsaysay award winner asked.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 2:37:24 PM |

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