India: student activists attacked by mob, temporarily detained and charged by policeEvent
- Initial Date
- May 17, 2021
- Event Description
The Allahabad High Court Bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar had recently observed that the entire medical system in the state of Uttar Pradesh pertaining to the smaller cities and villages can only be called ‘Ram Bharose’ (at the mercy of God). However, even this does not seem to have made the Uttar Pradesh government do a course correction.
This sarkari apathy seems to have also emboldened groups of right wing workers who have taken the law into their hands, and decided to crack the whip on individuals who are working on issues of public health and are raising awareness of the ongoing health crisis in the most populated state. According to a report in The Wire, a group of social activists campaigning for the ‘Right to Public Health’ was attacked in Lucknow on Monday.
Things took an ugly turn and the mob suddenly attacked the activists, after verbally abusing them, reported The Wire. A woman activist has also alleged that a mobster twisted her hand and abused her. However when the police arrived, they detained the three activists! The activists were taken to Hasanganj police post where they were interrogated for nearly three hours. The attackers are reportedly from the right wing and accused the activists of being ‘urban naxals’, a derogatory term made popular by so called ‘celebrities’ of the right wing.
According to the report a public campaign titled ‘Right to Public Health’ was launched in Uttar Pradesh by two groups: Naujawan Bharat Sabha and Stri Mukti League. Their demands included “nationalisation of health services as well as food and shelter for the poor during the entire lockdown.” Three social activists, Anupam, Avinash and Rupa were pasting posters and distributing pamphlets raising awareness about the campaign in the Hasanganj locality on Monday morning, when they were allegedly confronted by a group of locals. As per the report, the locals accused the activists of “misleading the public” and said they were pasting “pro-Muslim” posters near a temple. The locals continued to fuel hate and made the accusations communal. Even when the activists tried to reason with them and tell them about what the Right to Public Health was, showing them public interest information pamphlets, the mood did not change, stated the report.
Citizen’s groups, and some lawyers stood up in support of the detained activists, who were eventually released. However, police said there was no assault on the social workers! The Wire quoted the Hasanganj police station house officer, Yashkant Singh as saying, “We arrested three activists from Panna Lal Road for violating lockdown protocols and pasting posters illegally”.
Activist Rupa told the reporter that a man “twisted her hand” while snatching pamphlets from her; she added that she had already emailed senior police officers for registering a first information report against the miscreants. However, the police said no FIR was registered against anyone so far in this incident.
Anupam, one of the activists, however alleged that the mob were “sympathisers of the right wing as they were annoyed with our questioning on mishandling of the Covid-19 situation and the devastating condition of rural areas by the Bharatiya Janata Party government. They beat us as we were pasting posters featuring shortage of oxygen,” stated the news report. The other activist Avinash told The Wire, “The mob was saying that ‘everything is fine in the country, and there is no shortage of anything, neither in the country nor in the state. You people are falsely defaming the Modi and Yogi government’. While they were kicking us, they were calling us ‘urban naxals’.” The activists alleged that a local woman corporator was also a part of the mob and said the activists were “anti-Modi-Yogi people”.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Gender Based Harassment
- Intimidation and Threats
- Judicial Harassment
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to liberty and security
- Minority rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 17 May 2021, Anupam, Avinash and Rupa, student activists and minority rights defenders, were attacked by a mob and later charged by the police for distributing pamphlets to demand for better public healthcare related to COVID-19 in Lucknow, India.