“You are a Hindu, why did you participate in the protest”
“Does it (CAA) pose any danger to you?”
These were some of the questions that the UP police put forth when they had arrested activist Robin Verma in Lucknow on 20 December 2019.
A day prior to his arrest, Verma had gone to participate in a peaceful anti CAA protest at Parivartan Chowk. He claims that the police subjected him to physical as well as mental torture while in custody, which included religion-specific comments and snide remarks about family members.Robin Verma, Activist“On 20 December, I was with my friend Omar Rashid, who is a journalist with The Hindu. We were eating near the BJP office when a few people, who were not in police uniforms, came to us. They said that they were from the police and asked us to come along with them. They didn’t show us any arrest warrant at that point of time. They took our mobile phones and didn’t produce any documents for that as well.”
Around 25 people have been killed in UP during anti CAA protests, with victims’ families claiming that it was gunfire by the police that took people’s lives.
The UP police, however, has not admitted that it was the men in khaki who targeted citizens when the gathering turned unruly. What followed later drew more criticism as activists were arrested as part of the police crackdown to curb the protests.
In Verma’s case, the police did not even allow him to inform family members or seek legal help.Robin Verma, Activist“I was not allowed to go to the toilet. They neither gave me water nor informed my family. They then started asking all sorts of questions. How come you are a Hindu and have Muslim friends? We will push your wife towards prostitution. We will make your daughter do the same thing. We will trap you in big cases.”
Though out of jail now, Verma continues to face charges for causing damage to public property during protests and is gearing up to challenge legally a notice that has put the cost of damage at Rs 2.59 crore.