06, Jul 2018 | CJP Team
It appears that the right to protest peacefully, enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, is being eroded across the country. In many instances, the police are cracking down on those demanding action or raising awareness about legitimate issues. We have decided to act against this heavy-handed approach of the police by way of a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
In recent weeks, two young women student activists have been targeted by the Uttar Pradesh Police because they exercised their right to peacefully protest. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) stands with these student leaders, other activists and vulnerable, marginalised communities who live with the threat of legal action, and even violence, for peacefully demanding their rights.
On July 4, Lucknow University student leader Pooja Shukla, who has been on a hunger strike and who was protesting to demand access to her entrance examination results, was badly beaten by the Uttar Pradesh Police. She had to be hospitalised, but has said that she plans to persist with her hunger strike. Shukla was seemingly targeted after she showed black flags to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in 2017, and was then imprisoned for one month.
Earlier this year, in June, student leader Richa Singh, the former president of the Allahabad University student union, was protesting the leak of the Hindi examination paper for the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) when she and several others were detained by the police. According to a UP lawyer, Singh “was arrested after police started the lathi charge. They have booked students under serious allegations which are completely false and they are playing with students’ futures,” he said. While the others who were arrested were later released, Singh was in jail for three days. Following her release, she said, “The administration is very biased and did all it could to scuttle the bail application. Many stood by me and the Bar Association ensured that I was released today”.
These two arrests are not isolated, but the latest episodes in a pattern of police overstepping their boundaries. In May 2018, Tamil Nadu Police allegedly fired into a crowd of protesters demonstrating against the Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin that was emitting pollutants into the water there; more than ten people were killed. In light of increasing police violence on peaceful protest, CJP has submitted the following memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), seeking appropriate action.
Our memorandum to the NHRC may be read here: