‘Brutally thrashed and labelled urban naxal’, says theatre actor Deepak Kabir

He spent almost three weeks in police custody and jail after his arrest on Dec. 20 following a protest against CAA the previous day.

January 09, 2020 02:00 pm | Updated 04:41 pm IST - LUCKNOW:

Deepak Kabir

Deepak Kabir

Theatre actor and cultural activist Deepak Kabir on Thursday alleged that police not only brutally thrashed and abused him in custody but also labelled him an “urban naxal.”

The term ‘urban naxal’, used by right-wing groups and activists and popularised by leaders of the ruling BJP, is evoked to link activists and academicians critical of the government to Naxalites. 

Mr. Kabir, 44, was released from the Lucknow district jail after a local court granted him bail in connection with the violence in Lucknow during a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) on December 19 last.

He was arrested by police on December 20 when he allegedly went to the Hazratganj police station to inquire about the whereabouts of his activist friends who were picked up by police following the protests.

Mr. Kabir told The Hindu  that the Hazratganj SHO first snatched his phone, threw off his cap and dubbed him a “mastermind” of the violence. “He said, ‘you are a krantikari [revolutionary], right...’ Mr. Kabir recalled. He said his submission that he had come to the police station on his own will to look for his friends fell on deaf ears.

Following this, around 12-15 policemen escorted him to a hall and took turns to beat him up with batons and their arms and was kicked for at least 10 minutes, Mr. Kabir alleged. “The SHO told them to tie my hands and legs and beat me as much as they can,” he said.

Mr. Kabir said his ordeal did not end there. After getting a medical examination done at a local hospital, he was thrashed again on the orders of a senior police officer, he alleged.

This time, four policemen caught hold of him while a fifth incessantly hit him with a baton, he claimed. “They were told to hit me till they got tired,” Mr. Kabir said.

“He [district police chief] said, beat them so much that they can’t sit for months and make sure there is a 1.5 -2 inch swelling [on their buttocks],” he said.

The policemen also tried to undress him to thrash him but could not after he resisted, he alleged.

‘Communists hairstyle’

Commenting on Mr. Kabir’s dishevelled hair — he keeps his hair long — a police officer told him “such hairstyle is kept by Communists,” he said. “ These are urban naxals, prepare a list [of urban naxals],” Mr. Kabir said, recalling the police officer’s orders to his subordinates.

After spending almost three weeks in police custody and jail, Mr. Kabir, who organises the Kabir Festival, named after the Sufi mystic, every year in Lucknow, is shocked by the police action.

He said, “I can understand them hitting somebody picked up from the scene...they can have a doubt that he or she may be involved in the violence. But the next day, when someone is going to the police station…then we can see what kind of hate and revenge this is.” 

He said he became numb and was unable to think due to the physical pain. “I closed my ears and eyes so that I don’t feel anything.”

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.