The Hush Post| 11:30 am|one-minute-read|
In a new low, Uttar Pradesh police detained, threatened, used abusive language and tried to mentally disintegrate The Hindu correspondent Omar Rashid. Rashid was covering the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh.
Rashid says, his friend Robin Verma was brutally beaten. The incident took place when he was having a meal at a dhaba near the Uttar Pradesh BJP office.
Here is Rashid’s personal account
“Around 6:45 pm on Friday evening, I was trying to grab a quick meal at a dhaba outside the Uttar Pradesh BJP office, waiting to hear about a press conference to be held by the UP government a few blocks away, when at least four men in plainclothes barged in. I was accompanied by Robin Verma, a local activist and friend, and two others, both journalists.
The men did not identify themselves and inquired about us using strong and aggressive language. They told me they wanted to question me about something. At the very first instance, I revealed my identity as a journalist and asked them what the matter was all about. However, they packed the two of us, Robin Verma and me, into a police jeep, snatched my mobile phone and asked me to not call or inform anyone or I would regret it. They refused to explain anything to me and asked me to talk only when they asked.”
They then drove them to the Hazratganj police station a km away, where they were told a senior police officer wanted to talk to them. “We were then escorted to a room — it looked like a cyber cell — where within seconds of entering, cops, already stationed there, started thrashing Robin with a thick leather belt and slapped him many times,” Rashid said.
“Then the cops locked up Omar Rashid and threatened to beat him”
According to Rashid’s personal account, the cops then locked the room and asked Omar Rashid to keep silent. When he protested the policemen threatened him that they would book him under 120B of the Indian Penal Code.
“If I didn’t keep quiet and also said they had evidence to show I was part of the arsonists who vandalized police property and engaged in violence during the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, “ Rashid said.
Rashid again clarified that he was a journalist and showed them his identity cards. One of them knew him as a journalist but that was not considered.
Rashid’s friend Rohan badly thrashed
For the next few minutes, the policemen badly beat up Robin Verma, Rashid wrote. They made the same charges against him, says Rashid. “We were then packed into the rear seat of a police jeep and driven a few km away to the Sultanpuri police outpost without being told anything.”
Here too, they were taken into a tiny room and questioned. The cops repeatedly asked Rashid about the whereabouts of some “Kashmiris” and where he was hiding them. “I replied to all their questions in the negative as I had no clue why I was brought there in the first place. A few minutes later, two policemen, of the rank of CO, came in. I was told to stand up. The police officer, whose name I don’t know, told me he would set me right. He was wearing protective gear. I was then taken to another room in the quarters of a constable, where I was also photographed like a suspect.”
When the information had reached the CMO
“The same cop who threatened to put me in place, again asked me about the “Kashmiris” and said he would tear out all my beard and thrash me if I didn’t answer his questions as per his liking. Since I didn’t have my phone, I could not note down the long list of expletives used against me. He left after some time and I was kept in the room till around 8:30 pm. I was then called to the office of the Circle Officer of Hazratganj who questioned me for a few more minutes.”
Rashid was asked the same questions he was asked earlier: Whether he was a part of the protest, if he knew certain individuals, especially Kashmiris and about my professional and background. Rashid informed them that he was indeed present during the protests, as a journalist covering it. The CO asked him if he felt regret at the violence at the violence during the protest and refused to believe him. He also lectured Rashid on the “hypocrisy” of Leftist ideology and heavily criticised China and its clampdown on citizens.”
Later, the very cops who abused and intimidated Rashid earlier now profusely apologised to him and tried to explain that he was picked up due to a “confusion.” This was despite the fact that Omar Rashid had identified himself as a journalist from the very first moment. The police then let him off.