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Students on march, scribe released on bail in Uttar Pradesh

Point of discord: People protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Gorakhpur.

Point of discord: People protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Gorakhpur.   | Photo Credit: PTI

They were going from Chauri Chaura to Rajghat.

A group of 10 persons comprising nine students and activists and an accompanying female journalist, who were arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district while on a ‘Satyagraha’ march to Delhi, were enlarged on bail on Sunday evening.

An SDM court granted them bail on personal bonds of ₹1 lakh each.

Among those released was Delhi-based freelance journalist Pradeepika Saraswat, who said police had arrested her despite being informed that she was a scribe. While Ms. Saraswat admitted that she was not carrying her ‘press’ identification card during the padayatra, she asserted that she had shown the police her articles published online but that the police “did not listen to anything”.

Ms. Saraswat said she had joined the yatra “as a journalist” to cover it for a prospective first-hand account for an online portal or even a small book.

“I thought if I write 1,000 words daily, it will be 60,000 words in the end, it can even come up as a small book about this yatra and the current times,” Ms. Saraswat told The Hindu by telephone.

She said she had been motivated to walk with the students and activists as she had been impressed by their “energy” and goal of communicating with common people about the “division the current regime is creating.”

Ms. Saraswat and nine others, most of them BHU students, were at the head of the march from Chauri Chaura, near Gorakhpur, to Rajghat in Delhi when they were arrested on the ninth day in Ghazipur district.

Police accused them of “misleading people” and “instigating them” against the issue of CAA and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). The yatra was also deemed illegal.

Friends of those arrested, who were collectively grouped under the banner of ‘Team Nagrik Satyagraha’, however, accused the police of trying to “shrink and divert the objective” of the yatra, which they said was “against every form of violence and hate which exists in society and to spread [the] idea of Gandhi”.

Ms. Saraswat said the police had detained and sent them to jail without taking them to any police station. “The day we entered Ghazipur, the local intelligence units and police started following us,” she recalled.

“They took down our names. And two or more policemen were following us on bikes and updating their superiors. The first night we spent in Ghazipur, a couple of policemen also stayed with us. We were told the police were for our security. But the next day, after a couple of kilometres, they arrested us.”

The released students said that while detaining them, the police took objection to a pamphlet they were distributing about the yatra, which said, ‘Ao hamare saath chalo (Come, walk with us)’.

Police alleged that the call given in the pamphlet could ‘cause the yatra to swell into a mob’, said Raj Abhishek, a BHU student studying Conflict and Peace Management. Mr. Abhishek said the arrest was a “curb on our fundamental rights”.

“We walked with the message of peace and brotherhood of Gandhiji,” he said, adding that the goal of the yatra was to tell people to shed communal “hatred”.

“The basic issues of education, health and employment are being left behind amid the talk on CAA,” he said.

Team Nagrik Satyagraha said after their release, the marchers had tried to resume their padayatra from the same place in Ghazipur where they had been halted by the police, but that on Monday morning the police had picked up six of them and dropped them by car at the gate of the BHU in Varanasi.

A decision on the next phase of their yatra would be taken soon, they added.

When contacted, SDM Sadar Ghazipur Prabhas Kumar said “due process was fully followed” during the arrests.

“There were no irregularities of any kind,” he asserted.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:12:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/students-on-march-scribe-released-on-bail-in-uttar-pradesh/article30844810.ece

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