By Samiullah Khan
Reports of illegal arrest and detention of Muslims by Gujarat police have been pouring in from the besieged Palanpur. It all started with the anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests last December for which the organisers had obtained due permission from the police. However, the permission was cancelled the night before the scheduled protests i.e. on December 18.
The sudden arbitrary withdrawal of permission even as the organisers had assured of peaceful conduct of the demonstration and had pledged to adhere to the rules for protest came as a shock to many. What most of them didn’t know was that the revocation of permission for the protests was a ploy to create confusion before going ahead with their designs against the community.
Since all the preparations were in place and people were raring to go ahead with the protests the next day, it was almost impossible to stop them and ask to stay home. As was expected people assembled at the designated spot, the police reached there as per its plan and arrested main organisers of the event which enraged the protesters.
The protestors demanded immediate and unconditional release of the organisers. Some of them turned unruly and damaged a police van thus playing into the hands of the police. This led to a clash between the police and the protestors.
On December 21, the police started the next phase of their plan with the launch of a full-scale crackdown on Muslims arresting at least one hundred youths mostly belonging to Momin/Chillia community of Palanpur known for hard work and successful businesses.
Of the hundred-odd detainees, 50 were released while the remaining 50 continued under detention for the next three months. They were only released on parole on eve of Eid. Once the parole ends, they would be rearrested.
The point to be noted here is that the FIR registered against the organisers includes a prominent personality, Abdul Haq. However, he was not arrested then. He was not taken into custody even when he went to the police station to surrender himself. The police had some other plans for him. They arrested him two days ago after declaring him an absconder.
The FIR was a perfect script to trap innocent people before putting them behind bars. If you have a closer look at what was going on in Palanpur, you won’t fail to notice that these detentions and raids on Muslim homes are nothing but a ploy.
The police first gave permission for the protests; when all the preparations for the protests were complete, suddenly they withdrew the permission making a legal gathering illegal. The police knew well that the Muslims would gather to protest which would give them a perfect excuse to target them and thus they could be able to weaken a well-established business community of Momins.
The fact that policemen manhandled and misbehaved with women along with men during a raid on the house of Abdul Haq reflects the police’s hostile mindset. They don’t spare even women in Gujarat.
What has been going on in Palanpur is a major clampdown on Muslims and the execution of a well thought out plan to weaken a well-established and financially strong Muslim community. Muslims and all the peace-loving Indians should stand against police’s uncalled-for and outrageous excesses in Palanpur.
Police raids and arrests have been going on in the area since December. Such a long crackdown is bound to leave a negative impact on Muslim youths of Palanpur and may even push them to extremism.
The writer is a young activist and General Secretary of Campain for Peace and Justice. According to him the report is based on the statements of local activists in Palanpur.
Translated by Urdu Media Monitor from Samiullah Khan’s Facebook