The Uttar Pradesh police have lodged three criminal cases against the protesters, mostly women, demonstrating against the Citizenship Amendment (Act) (CAA) at the Clocktower Park in Lucknow since Friday.
The police have named around two dozen persons in the FIRs, while more than 135 are unidentified protesters. Most of those named in the FIRs are women and include Sumaiya Rana and Fauzia Rana, daughters of Urdu poet Munawwar Rana, a Sahitya Akademi Award winner.
The SHO of Thakurganj police station, where the FIRs were lodged, confirmed to The Hindu that the protesters were booked in three separate cases but no arrests were made yet.
In one of the FIRs, the Rana sisters and others have been booked under Sections 147, 145, 188 and 283 of the IPC. The charges are unlawful assembly, rioting, disobedience to order and causing anger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation.
The case was lodged for dhakka mukki (pushing and shoving) by the protesters against the police on duty, a police officer said.
The FIR, lodged on the complaint of the women constables on duty, alleged that on January 18, the persons named “pushed and shoved them out” of the site when they had gone there to disperse the crowd. The police said the protest gathering was held without any permission and violated the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Cr.PC.
Ms. Sumaiya Rana condemned the police action and said the government was trying to save its face by booking the protesters.
“There has not been any violence at the protest. Only women and children are protesting,” she told The Hindu . “We are sitting, singing patriotic songs. Slogans of Inquilab Zindabad and ‘Azadi’ from casteism, Manuvad and Fascism are being raised. What crime did we commit,” she asked.
Ms. Rana appeared surprised by the FIRs: "We are exercising our constitutional right. What can we say, whatever is legal, we will face it," she said.
The FIRs have surfaced a day after the UP police was criticized on social media with the hashtag
"Kambal Chor UP Police (Blanket thief, UP police)" after women protesters holding a sit-in against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at the Clocktower park accused the police of snatching away their supplies, floorings, food items and blankets in the cold night. The police, however, claimed the blankets were seized following due process of law.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday hit out at political parties opposing the CAA, saying they spread negative propaganda to malign the country’s image by “pushing women to the front”. He did not refer to any incident or event. In Lucknow and Prayagraj, protesters, a majority of them women, against the CAA and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens have accused the police of non-cooperation and hostility.
At a rally in support of the CAA in Gorakhpur on Sunday, Mr. Adityanath used the allegory of the disrobing of Draupadi in Mahabharata, to blame the Opposition of trying to “malign” the country’s image globally.
“The Opposition’s act is like the cheer haran. Rashtre ke cheer haran jaisa hai [it is like the disrobing of the nation],” he said.
Mr. Adityanath accused the Opposition of trying to “spoil the atmosphere” in the country through “propaganda” against the nation and by “pushing women to the front”.
‘Send postcards to PM’
At a rally in support of the CAA in Gorakhpur, he urged supporters of the new law “not to remain silent”, and asked them to send postcards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsing it.
He alleged that the Opposition was trying to “mislead people” on the CAA and that the protests against the amended law were part of a “conspiracy” to defame India by those who wanted to “obstruct” the growth of “New India.”