The Uttar Pradesh police booked a group of academicians, poets and lawyers for “inciting people for rioting,” after they held a meeting advocating justice to the victims of the Hashimpura massacre on April 27.
The meeting was held as a mark of ‘protest’ days after the verdict in the extra-judicial killing was delivered by a Delhi trial court which had acquitted all the police personnel who were accused of killing, due to lack of evidence.
Interestingly, the activists associated with “Rihai Manch” were booked on 27 April but were allegedly informed by the Lucknow police only on Friday. The group had organised “ People's Convention Against State Government’s Communal and Anti-Justice Role” on April 26 in the Ameenabad area of Lucknow.
While police said the FIR was registered because the convention was held despite denial of permission, the civil society activists were “shocked” and said that there was no reason for the police to register an FIR against them for holding what was a “completely peaceful” convention. They were also surprised that the police informed them four months later about the case.
Mohammad Shoeb, a Faizabad-based advocate who is associated with the advocacy group, told The Hindu that the registration of a case was “nothing but a violation of their fundamental rights.”
Sixteen participants of the convention, including Mr. Shoeb, have been booked under various sections of IPC.
Vimal Baiga of the Ameenabad Police Station told The Hindu : “The group held the meeting without the permission and that’s why the FIR was registered.” Rihai Manch had applied for permission from the local police before holding the convention but were denied permission on the pretext that the venue was in a “mixed area with population of both Hindus and Muslims” and holding a convention on Hashimpura may “disturb peace and law and order of the area,” as the letter from the local police station denying them permission says.
Shahnawaz Alam, spokesperson of the Manch, told this correspondent that he didn’t agree with the police and had told the authorities that the convention posed no threat to the peace of the area.
“The logic that convention would disturb the peace of a mixed populated area was ridiculous. The question of justice to the victims of extra-judicial killings of people in Hashimpura was never a Hindu- Muslim question but is a question of justice against the violence perpetrated by the agencies of the State,” said Mr. Shahnawaz.
“Indian culture has always been diverse and mixed and Hindus and Muslims have been living together. How could a convention for justice to victims of police killings pose threat to peace of an area?” he questioned.
“But if raising questions for justice for people who were killed by police in cold blood, is inciting riot, we are happy to be booked,” he added.
They held a convention to seek justice to victims of Hashimpura massacre